A steep surcharge program for drunken driving and other violations is clogging Texas courts and causing the dismissal rate for DWI cases to skyrocket, reports the Dallas Morning News. David Hodges, a former judge, told the state Public Safety Commission this week that the Texas Driver Responsibility Program has had a “devastating” effect on the court system. Judges are reporting at least two years of pending driving-while-intoxicated cases as more defendants seek trials.
“Our criminal justice system is supposed to be about changing behavior and making our streets safer, but there is no evidence that this program is making our streets safer,” said Hodges. Not only are more DWI cases being dismissed, but others are resulting in lesser charges, such as reckless driving, to help reduce the huge backlog, he noted. About 1.2 million Texans – about two-thirds of the drivers who have been slapped with surcharges – now owe the state more than $1 billion that they have either refused or been unable to pay.