Following the failure of Sen. Brandes’ SB 1270 in 2018, Sen. Rouson has introduced a new bill addressing driver’s license suspensions for unpaid fines and fees. The bill provides that driver’s licenses may not be suspended for failure to pay fines and fees unless the person has the ability to pay but refuses to do so. It also provides that courts must provide alternatives to immediate payment of fines and fees for people who are indigent, such as payment plans and community service.
- Before a driver’s license can be suspended for non-payment of criminal court fees (322.245) or traffic citations (318.15):
- Clerks must demonstrate to the court that a person has the ability to pay.
- A person is deemed unable to pay if they receive certain public benefits, are represented by the public defender, are in bankruptcy, are on a payment plan which exceeds 2% of average monthly income, or if they are incarcerated.
- When an individual applies for a public defender, courts must give them the option of satisfying court fines and fees by enrolling in a payment plan or completing community service. Traffic tickets must also include a notification of the availability of payment plans and community service.
- Monthly payment amounts may not exceed 2% of average monthly income or $25, whichever is lower. Payment plans may be modified.
- When courts refer outstanding fines and fees to a private attorney or collection agent, they may not impose a surcharge.
- Driver’s licenses would no longer be suspended for a variety of non-driving related offenses, such as providing alcohol to a minor, possession of alcohol by a person under 21, sexting, misdemeanor theft, etc.