Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation Thursday that ends the dreaded driver responsibility fees and wipes out $637 million in debt owed by nearly 350,000 drivers.

But relief won't come for most of those drivers until Oct. 1.

Driver responsibility fees, ranging from $100 to $2,000, were passed in 2003 to help fill a budget hole when Michigan’s economy faltered. And the money raised — between $99 million and $115 million a year — did help the state’s general fund. The fees were charged on top of tickets issued to drivers for everything from multiple speeding tickets to drunken driving.

“I’m pleased we found a solution that eliminates them without creating new state debt and helps remove barriers to work for more Michiganders," Snyder said in a statement.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said the bill signing marked a great day for Michigan drivers.

"Too many Michigan drivers lost their license because of driver responsibility fees that didn’t promote public safety but did make it harder for people to pick up their kids from school or get to work," she said.

What drivers still owing fees need to know:

  • No new driver responsibility fees will be issued and the outstanding debt will be wiped out beginning Oct. 1, 2018.
  • Drivers who have entered into an installment payment plan with the Department of Treasury to pay off their driver responsibility fees and have continued to make those payments can have their remaining debt wiped out immediately and apply to have their licenses reinstated.
  • Drivers who aren't on payment plans can get their licenses reinstated after Oct. 1 and will have the $125 reinstatement fee waived if they apply before Dec. 31, 2018.
  • The state will develop an education outreach program to help people who still owe the fines.
  • People who are enrolled in Workforce Development programs can have the fees waived and their licenses reinstated upon completion of the program.
  • The Secretary of State has set up a help line — 888-767-6424 — and will provide information on the state's website — www.michigan.gov/sos — to help drivers figure out how to get their drivers' licenses reinstated.
  • The Treasury Department has a help line — 517-636-5240 — and a website to help drivers learn about the driver responsibility fees
  • http://www.michigan.gov/driverresponsibility.

Contact Kathleen Gray: kgray99@freepress.com or on Twitter @michpoligal.

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