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I'm on SSI, very low income and owe a drivers responsibility fee with no chance to pay it.. any other options?

Trenton, MI |

It was my first and only serious offence. I took a plea to ' driving while visibly impaired ' do to alcohol. It has been 8 years and I still can't afford the fee. I'm 30 now and I can't pay my bills, take care of my 10 year old daughter and pay the drivers responsibility fee so I have no choice but to put the fee off not to mention its costing me $80 a month in gas to pay friends to drive me to get my daughter from her mothers house. I am half crippled and can't make any extra cash on the side. A family member is giving me an old car if I can get my license back. I know this wouldn't matter but the reason I got pulled over is because I was driving too slow, nobody got hurt.. total cost is $1,600. I signed up for they payment plan, failed to make a payment....

now they won't let me sign up for the payment plan again and said it must be paid in full the get it back. I'm desperate and this has ruined my life. If I can find a lawyer that would file chapter 7 bankruptcy for a few hundred, would that cover the drivers responsibility fee?

Attorney Answers 3


SSI can usually be free of garnishment for almost all matters. Not being from Michigan, I have never dealt with the "drivers responsibility fee" issue.

I was able to find website from a licensed Michigan attorney that addressed that situation.

Russell Law Firm PC (located in Grand Rapids) states that the fee is dischargable as follows:

"Fortunately, Michigan driver’s responsibility fees are generally dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, as well as Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Criminal penalties are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. However, Michigan driver’s responsibility fees are not “criminal penalties.” They are administrative fines levied by the Secretary of State’s office, not as a sentencing judgment or criminal statutory penalty by a criminal court conviction. Therefore, they should not fall under the “criminal penalty” non-dischargeability exception to the list of debts dischargeable under the US Bankruptcy Code as traffic tickets, parking tickets, and other fines may."

Verify the information by contacting a bankruptcy attorney in your area. It looks like you may be on the right track..

Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by attorney Clint Curtis as general information and not specific legal advice. Specific advice can only be provided after a complete analysis of all information related to the asker. No attorney-client relationship is established by the use of the information provided. If you have additional questions please contact the law office.

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I believe that the secretary of state will allow you to pay the driver
responsibility fee with monthly payments. You can get your driver license
back upon execution of the payment plan. My opinion is that those fees are
not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Patrick M. O'Reilly

Attorney at Law

12845 Farmington Rd.

Livonia, Mi 48150

ph: (248)-396-7590

Fax: (248)-281-0951

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Short answer is yes, you can discharge the responsibility fee in a chapter 7. What I'm wondering is how/why you owe $1,600.00? The driver responsibility fee or an OUIL, what you said you plead to, is $500/year for 2 years, or $1,000.00 total, plus the $125 reinstatement fee. I checked the SOS website, and since April of this year, there seems to be an ability for you so reapply for an installment payment agreement. Check this link

There it says that you can be reinstated 3 times per assessment, meaning that you have two more shots to try an installment agreement. It could be worth a shot to call again and talk to a different person, and mention the act referenced above in that link.

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Im assuming the rest of the money their charging me is from the madd class, chemical awareness program, and some other alcohol class 2 times eachor their just squeezing more money.



So you're saying I have 3 tries to set up a monthly payment, drive as long as i'm making payments, kinda like a prepaid phone? When I talked to them about it they said I would have to make about 3 payments before they would give me back my license. They never give me a straight answer .

Zachary Charles Kemp

Zachary Charles Kemp


Like I said, call back and talk to someone else about the driver resp fee. The other fees are what is called either an fcj or fac suspension . To clear that you should try to contact the court and see if you can enter a payment arrangement with them to clear that up.

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