TFDP prepares materials for the Legislature and state agencies in support of policies that improve the criminal legal system. TFDP also publishes policy briefs and implementation guides to inform local officials and communities about new legislation and other policy developments.
Low-income people throughout Texas become trapped in a cycle of poverty and jail when they cannot afford to pay traffic tickets and other citations. S.B. 1913 (Zaffirini) will help low-income Texans across the state escape this cycle by expanding community service and waiver options, limiting incarceration for nonpayment, and removing barriers to drivers licenses and vehicle registration.
Last session Texas repealed the Driver Responsibility Program, which lifted nearly 1.4 million suspensions. But over half of the people affected by the repeal still can’t get their driver’s licenses due to other fines and fees programs – most commonly the OmniBase program, which puts a hold on your license if you haven’t paid your traffic tickets.
Every year, thousands of Texans who have been convicted of drug offenses struggle to rebuild their lives. That struggle is made more difficult by Section 521.372 of the Transportation Code, which was passed in response to a federal mandate requiring states to suspend the driver’s license of anyone who is convicted of a drug offense – regardless of whether that offense had anything to do with driving. This resolution and corresponding bill allows Texas to opt out of the federal mandate and repeal this law, helping to ensure that people can get back on their feet and provide for themselves and their families.
We have an ambitious legislative agenda for this upcoming 2021 legislative session. We hope to pass bills that will improve access to alternatives to fines and fees, such as community service and waiver; strengthen indigent defense; expand eligibility for expunctions and nondisclosures; and reform programs that result in the loss of driver’s licenses due to inability to pay fines, fees, and surcharges.