Details You Should Know About Driver Fee Elimination

Posted on October 2, 2018 by Dene Westbrook

View the YouTube video about this here.

The office of Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has asked the Michigan Municipal League to share the following press release with our members. So this is us, doing just that.

The press release is about some details you should know regarding the elimination of the Driver Responsibility Fee Law that took affect on Monday. This is an issue the League has been following for quite some time. In particular, a number of our more urban members had previously identified the bad driver fees as a serious impediment to their residents getting jobs. The League has supported the elimination of these fees as long as the revenue from them that had gone to fire protection grants was preserved.  That was accomplished in this last budget, so it should be an overall positive for our members and for law enforcement. In other words, the League supports this move.

Here is the press release from the Secretary of State:

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson: Oct. 1 driver fee elimination doesn’t guarantee valid license
About 305,000 motorists will have fees waived Oct. 1

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today reminded motorists that the Driver Responsibility Fee Law’s elimination on Oct. 1 wipes clean only those fees from a driving record. License suspensions not related to Driver Responsibility Fee must still be cleared up before a person’s license will be reinstated.

“We strongly encourage people who lost their license to unpaid driver fees to make sure they know if they’re eligible to get their license back before heading to a Secretary of State office,” Johnson said. “Know before you go and avoid the frustration of having to make additional trips.”

The Secretary of State’s Office is mailing letters ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline to advise affected motorists of the status of their driving record. The letters inform affected residents if they are eligible for license reinstatement or if there are other issues that must be taken care of, such as paying off tickets owed directly to local court, before they visit an office. Individuals whose license has been expired for more than four years will need to pass a written knowledge test and a road test before their license will be reinstated.

With the elimination of the fees, about 305,000 motorists will be relieved of Driver Responsibility Fee debt that caused hardship. Changes to the law also permitted about 27,000 motorists to have their fees immediately waived this year because they had enrolled in a qualifying payment plan before Feb. 1. Another 13,500 were granted relief because they had participated in a workforce development program.

To accommodate the expected increase in customer transactions due to the fee elimination, Johnson has hired more staff to be ready to keep lines moving quickly for all customers.

As a state representative in 2003, Johnson voted against Driver Responsibility Fees. As secretary of state, she has pushed for repealing the Driver Responsibility Fee law, successfully advocating that lawmakers eliminate the most common fees in 2011, create a community service option for certain fees in 2015 and begin phasing out all Driver Responsibility Fees.

Drivers who received a letter and still have questions should contact the Department of State Information Center at 888-767-6424. More information may also be found at

An update on Driver Responsibility Fees from Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is available on YouTube.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at [email protected].

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