Thursday, September 6, 2018

Tennessee prosecutor will no longer pursue driver's license violations

Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk  he would stop prosecuting a large swath of driver's license violations effective immediately, a new policy that could divert 12,000 charges out of Nashville courtrooms over the next year, reported the Tennessean.
Funk called the move, part of an agreement with the sheriff's office, a "win-win-win." He said it would save the city money while lightening the workload for judges, court staffers and prosecutors.
It also promises to keep thousands of people out of the criminal justice system and away from what Funk called "the collateral consequences" of a criminal charge. Instead, they will be routed through Steering Clear, a sheriff's office program that helps people get their licenses reinstated.
If the program functions as intended, proponents say it would mean fewer people driving illegally on Nashville streets.
In the past, someone who came to court with a misdemeanor charge like driving on a suspended license would need to be booked and fingerprinted. They would have a mug shot taken and appear before a judge, accruing a round of court fees and fines on top of the costs of replacing their licenses.
Often, offenders are unable to pay, so they continue driving illegally, racking up a pile of menial driving violations and corresponding fees that make progress even less likely.
"It's a vicious cycle. It keeps going and going and going," said Maria Toro, the Steering Clear program manager. "We're trying to stop that right at the beginning."
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