Monday, May 28, 2018

More than 7 million people nationwide had driver’s licenses suspended for failure to pay fines

More than 7 million people nationwide may have had their driver’s licenses suspended for failure to pay court or administrative debt, a practice that advocates say unfairly punishes the poor, the Washington Post reports. The total number could be much higher based on the population of states that did not or could not provide data, according to The Crime Report. 
At least 41 states and Washington, D.C., suspend or revoke driver’s licenses after drivers fail to pay traffic tickets or appear in court to respond to such tickets. Driver’s license suspensions were criticized by anti-poverty advocates after a 2015 federal investigation focused on Ferguson, Mo., showed that law enforcement used fines to raise revenue for state and local governments. 
Last year, the nonprofit Equal Justice Under Law filed class-action lawsuits against the states of Michigan and Montana for what they call  wealth-based suspension schemes, and filed another suit this year against the state of Pennsylvania for suspending licenses solely because of drug related offenses. According to the organization’s director Phil Telfeyan, a former civil rights attorney for the Department of Justice, Michigan suspended 397,826 licenses in 2010 alone for failure to pay court debt or failure to appear.
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