Michigan Public Acts 43-50: Elimination of Driver Responsibility Fees; License Reinstatement

In Michigan, legislation that abolishes the state’s “driver responsibility fees” took effect on October 1, 2018. These fees were introduced in 2003 as a way to balance the state budget, and they have imposed a crushing burden on at least 350,000 drivers statewide. Before this legislation was enacted, Michigan motorists collectively owed $637 million in driver responsibility fees — all of which will be forgiven by the state.

To the state’s credit, Secretary of State Fred Woodhams hired 40 new staff statewide to accommodate the anticipated influx of drivers, and he had this to say: “The state was never going to be collecting on that money. It was just something that was keeping Michigan residents from leading productive lives and contributing to society.” Michigan judges had also spoken out against these fees—in 2017, District Judge William Kelly said that over a period of 5 weeks in his courtroom, “only 21% of defendants had their licenses suspended for bad driving. The rest were suspended because of the fees.”

You can read more about this legislative package via the Michigan Governor’s website. The bills included in this package are known as Public Acts 43-50 of 2018, which you can find via the Michigan Legislature’s website.

Key Provisions
  • No new driver responsibility fees can be assessed after October 1, 2018.
  • The Department of Treasury can no longer collect outstanding driver responsibility fees. In addition, drivers are no longer liable for any fees that remain outstanding, and can have their license reinstated.
  • Ends responsibility for the balance of fees for drivers who had entered into an installment agreement to pay their fees on or before Feb. 1, 2018, and makes drivers eligible to have their license reinstated if they were otherwise in compliance with the Act.
  • Eliminates the reinstatement fee of $125 charged by the Secretary of State to reinstate a license that was suspended due to unpaid DRFs from the date the bill is signed (March 1, 2018) until December 31, 2018. This provision was meant to encourage motorists to take advantage of this opportunity.
  • If an individual completes their DWI/Sobriety Court Program after October 1, 2018, the associated Driver Responsibility Fee will not be collected.
Lee Chatfield, Roger Hauck, Joseph Bellino, Daire Rendon
Public Acts 43-50