Rep. Bellino bill speeds phase-out of ineffective driver responsibility fees

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Punitive measure does not improve drivers’ skills


State Rep. Joe Bellino today introduced legislation that will speed the phase-out of driver responsibility fees and give people who have been under the fees a chance to drive again.

Bellino, of Monroe, said the law establishing the fees was passed in 2003 more as a way to grab money for the state budget than as a plan to help people become better drivers. In 2011 the Legislature approved measures to phase out the fees by 2019, but Bellino’s bill will speed up the process of eliminating the ineffective fees.

“This had nothing to do with deterring dangerous driving and everything to do with finding a way to fix an unbalanced budget in the previous administration,” Bellino said. “These financial burdens have forced some people to lose jobs and depend on state benefits to survive, while others are driving illegally so they can feed their families. This cycle must end, and that’s what our bills accomplish.”

Under the legislation, people on payment plans to fulfill their obligations to the state would have immediate amnesty. Bellino’s bill phases out the requirements for payment by Oct. 1, 2018, and another bill reinstates a community service plan so people still responsible for the fees until 2018 may earn their driver’s licenses back prior to the phase-out date.

“This is common-sense legislation to correct a law that never should have been enacted,” Bellino said. “There is no evidence at all that paying the fees made anyone a better driver. Now those who were unable to drive to work have a fresh chance to succeed.”

The bills were referred to the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee.