Secretary of State Ruth Johnson made the following statement regarding the announced deal to eliminate Driver Responsibility Fees:
“This announced deal to address and fully eliminate Driver Responsibility Fees is great news for Michigan motorists. The automatic fees collected by the Department of Treasury were a terrible mistake during the dark days of Michigan’s lost decade. They’re a double-penalty that hit hard-working Michigan families and unlike the underlying traffic ticket, judges couldn’t review or offer alternate ways of taking care of the added fee.
“The fact that we’re eliminating these fees shows how much Michigan has come back over the past seven years. I’m thankful that the Legislature and the governor are moving swiftly to close this painful chapter in our history. The fees had nothing to do with traffic safety, never should have been adopted and are now finally on the way out.”
As a state representative in 2003, Johnson voted against Driver Responsibility Fees. As secretary of state, she has pushed for repealing the Driver Responsibility Fee law, successfully advocating that lawmakers eliminate the most common fees in 2011, create a community service option for certain fees in 2015 and begin phasing out all fees.
Driver Responsibility Fees are an additional fee automatically charged for various traffic violations, including non-moving violations, on top of regular traffic citation fines and court costs. Unlike traditional court fines and fees in which a judge can take into consideration a driver’s ability to pay and order alternatives, such as payment plans or community service in lieu of payment, the automatically assessed Driver Responsibility Fees cannot be waived or reduced by a judge.