Drivers Responsibility Fee in Michigan

The federal government has always supported the citizens right to travel among the united states.

The federal government has granted the states the priviledge of regulating who should and should not drive on the public roads.

The states advertise that driving is a priviledge and not a right. If you are capable of driving on the roads safely, then you have the right to drive.

The responsibility of keeping the roads safe is that of the states, counties, and cities. This includes making sure that the people driving on the roads are doing so safely, and that the roads themselves are in a good enough condition in which to drive on.

This costs money which the states, counties, and cities recoop by enforcing that cars are registered with the states each year, that you also have a drivers license that shows you are capable of driving on the roads, safely. There are other taxes that go along with creating monetary income for the states such as the tax on gasoline.

Fines are put into place, as well, which help distribute money to the budgets which are used to keep the roads safe for everyone.

It’s pretty simple. You break a law, you pay a fine. Each fine has its monetary value which is set by (i don’t know who sets these).

My first question is what is the guideline for setting the value of each fine? I would have to assume that there is a fine line between maximizing the value of the fine and exceeding the value, making the fine itself unconstitutional.

The US Consitution says the following in the 8th amendment:
“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Michigan has a copy of this amendment in their own constitution and I would assume that the other states do as well.

The DRF was challenged in the Michigan Supreme Court as being a violation of the double-jeopardy portion of the state’s constitution. The court did not see it as a violation and knocked down that ruling, stating that the fine and fee are all a part of the conviction.

That is where the DRF is wrong, since it is all of the same conviction, and the fines themselves are set to not violate the 8th amendment, any additional fees attributed to the crime is a violation of the 8th.

I’m not argueing against the fines that must be paid when a person breaks the law while driving. I agree that this type of regulation needs to be there. But the fines are set at the value they are for a reason, to maximize punishment while not breaking the 8th.

My case is as thus:
I drove with lapsed insurance and got pulled over. Got the ticket for NPI. I didn’t pay the fine. I got pulled over again and got a second ticket for NPI and since I hadn’t paid the fine, my license had been suspended, so I got that ticket as well, which is a misdemeanor and required me to go to court.

Having learned the lesson, I never again have lapsed on my insurance, not once.

I had to take time out from work in order to go to the courthouse in Mason and sit in front of the magistrate and plead guilty to the driving on suspended and the other tickets. I was required to pay all the fines right then and there. This cost me upwards of 750 dollars, cash I had to beg for.

That was it. I felt good about doing the right thing and getting my shit straight.

Then came the DRF letters. First year, 900 dollars, second year 900 dollars. Failure to pay will result in the suspension of your drivers license.

So now the culmination of all fines and fees together totals 2550 dollars. Had I been in the court room and been told that this is what I owed, I would have freaked out but I would also have done what needed to be done to pay it off. However, that is not the case in Michigan.

There was nobody else in the court room with me while I pled guilty to the crimes.  The magistrate that was sitting there did not charge me with these fees.  It’s like the state suddenly decided that it has the right to send you a bill for services that you had never requested.

I would also like to add that 2 states that I know of have tried to emulate this same thing. Virginia and Texas. Both states have since repealed them.

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~ by aeroslin on April 27, 2009.

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