How to Clear a Responsibility Fee

by Fraser Sherman

Drivers' responsibility fees are fees several states, such as New York and Michigan, charge to unsafe drivers on top of traffic tickets and DUI fines. If the fee, which can go up to $1,000, isn't paid, your driving license can be suspended. State governments defend the fees as a way to promote safer driving; critics, such as Michigan's Maze Legal Group, say it's a convenient way to raise money for state roads without raising taxes all around. Despite criticisms that the fees are unfair, so far the only way to clear the fees is to pay them in full.

Responsibility Fees


Calculate what you can afford to pay. Fees can be steep: In 2010, Michigan's website says the state charges $1,000 for drunk driving, and $100 in any year you have seven points on a driver's license; for every added point, the driver owes another $50. New York charges $100 a year for three years if you earn six points on your license and a $750 fee, payable over three years, for alcohol- or drug-related driving offenses, on top of any other penalties.


Ask the state about an installment plan if you can't afford to pay upfront. Unlike New York, Michigan expects the full fee paid within 30 days, but drivers have the option to negotiate a payment plan of up to two years.


Pay the fees to the correct state department. In Michigan, for example, payments go to the Department of the Treasury, not the Department of Motor Vehicles. Once the money is paid, the responsibility fee is cleared. Lowering your points won't clear a fee after the state has assessed it. If you fail to pay, the state will suspend your license, whether you're paying all at once or in installments.

About the Author

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

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