Texas Rethinks Bankrupting Drunk Drivers

Texas residents caught driving with a few too many Lone Stars not only face criminal charges but thousands of dollars in extra fees from the state's license bureau. Now defense attorneys and MADD say the fees should stop.

Under a law passed in 2003, an inebriated driver convicted in Texas must pay the state $1,000 to $2,000 a year for three years. If convicted again, the fees rise up to $3,000 a year. If drivers can't pay, their licenses get revoked.

A Fort Worth attorney has filed a lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional, contending not only does it punish people twice for the same crime, it clogs the court system with defendants desperate to avoid convictions; prosecutors and judges don't have the power to waive the fees.

The august Texas Legislature has kinda sorta noticed that the state's generally impoverished residents might face some difficulty in coughing up the cash. And the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has weighed in against the fees, saying they don't deter sloshed motorists. [Fort Worth Star Telegram]