Update on Surcharge Amnesty in Texas by Bo Kalabus

The Texas Department of Public Safety has announced it will provide an Amnesty period in order to offer lower payments for individuals whose driving privileges have been suspended and are in default on their surcharges.

The goal of the Amnesty period is to bring drivers into compliance with the surcharge law, and allow them to become licensed and insured drivers. Surcharges are in addition to all other reinstatement fees required for other administrative actions and do not replace any administrative suspension, revocation, disqualification or cancellation action that results from these same convictions. The amnesty reduction does not apply to any other fees that you may owe the Department of Public Safety.

The Amnesty period will be offered from January 17 to April 17, 2011. Applications for Amnesty will only be accepted through April 7, 2011. Unfortunately, Amnesty will not apply to any surcharges assessed after January 15, 2011.

To be eligible for Amnesty, several conditions must first be met:

1) Your unpaid surcharge must have been assessed between September 30, 2004 and December 31, 2008; and

2) At least one of the surcharge(s) meeting the above criteria must be in default prior to the Amnesty period.

If you meet the above criteria, the next step is to apply. To start the process, go to https://www.txsurchargeonline.com/AmnestyOptin.aspx to fill out an application, or call the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) at 1 (877) 207-3170. TDPS WILL NOT accept applications by mail, email, or fax; this includes contacts made to Municipal Services Bureau or the Department of Public Safety. Nor will applications be accepted by DPS.

If your online or telephone application is approved, the surcharge suspensions will be cleared on your driving record within 3 business days. Moreover, during the application process, you will be provided the reduced amount to pay and can begin making payments after 3 business days. A letter will also be mailed to you confirming your approval and providing the reduced amount to pay and the final date that the payment must be received. If you make partial payments, reminder notices will not be sent, but you can check your remaining Amnesty balance 24/7 online at www.txsurchargeonline.com or by telephone at 1 (877) 207-3170

The good news is if you qualify for Amnesty, your surcharge amounts could be reduced to 10% of the original amount owed for all of your surcharges combined. My understanding is that service fees will still apply to the reduced amount, but any payments made prior to the Amnesty Program will be applied to the reduced amount.
If prior payments are more than the reduced amount owed, no payment will be required
Prior payments that are more than the reduced amount owed will not be refunded

One proviso is if payment in full is not received by April 17, 2011, the Amnesty reduction is voided, all surcharge balances revert to the amounts owed prior to your Amnesty application, and the suspensions are put back on the driving record, so if approved, an individual should be diligent with the status of their remaining payments.

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