What Is a Driver’s Responsibility Assessment?

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Driving in New York (Photo: @askoldsb via Twenty20)
In New York state, having a poor driving record won’t just increase your auto insurance premiums. It can result in having to pay a driver’s responsibility assessment fee over the course of a three-year period to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles. Nonpayment of the driver’s responsibility assessment results in a suspended driver’s license, the incurrence of additional fines, and, in extreme cases, jail time.
The driver’s responsibility assessment went into effect on November 18, 2004. The fee is intended to deter repeat driving offenses and entice affected individuals to improve their driving skills.

Who has to pay a driver’s responsibility assessment?

Any person convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is required to pay a driver’s responsibility assessment fee. It doesn’t matter whether the driving was of a boat, motor vehicle, or snowmobile. If a driver was pulled over for suspicion of DUI/DWI and refused to submit to blood alcohol content testing or a breathalyzer, the fee is also incurred.
New York state drivers who have accumulated six or more points on their driving records with other offenses, such as speeding, within an 18-month period also must pay a driver’s responsibility assessment. Those points may have been incurred through driving offenses in New York state, Ontario, or Quebec.

How much is a driver’s responsibility assessment?

Over the course of a three-year period, the total amount of a driver’s responsibility assessment can range between $300 and $750. With the accumulation of additional points on the driving record during the three-year period, the amount can be even more. Payments must be made in equal parts annually at a minimum.
There are no penalties for prepaying the entirety of the driver’s responsibility assessment, but the annual fee must be paid on time to prevent incurring additional fees and a license suspension.

How to pay a driver’s responsibility assessment

There are three ways to pay a driver’s responsibility assessment: online, by mail, or in person. The Department of Motor Vehicles issues statements of what is owed by mail to the address on record.
Online payments can be made with a credit or debit card on the New York Department of Motor Vehicles website. Alternately, payments by check or money order can be sent to: DRA Processing Center, State Office Building, PO Box 359, Utica, NY 13503. Driver’s responsibility assessments can also be paid in person at any Department of Motor Vehicles office in New York state.
There is no way to reduce the amount of the driver’s responsibility assessment, although many people mistakenly think that taking a Point and Insurance Reduction Cost Program may do so.
While it is unlikely that a lawyer can completely prevent incurring a driver’s responsibility assessment, legal representation may help to negotiate a more favorable amount of driving record points by perhaps getting an infraction or two lifted from the record.
While it is best to avoid the circumstances that can lead to a driver’s responsibility assessment fee with good driving practices, making on-time payments and monitoring driving points on your record are best practices once the damage is done.