Individual and Geographic Variation in Driver’s License Suspensions: Evidence of Disparities by Race, Ethnicity and Income


91 percent of driver’s license suspensions were for non-driving related events.

A suspended license can severely limit an individual’s access to healthcare services and social and economic opportunities. However, many states use driver’s license suspension as a compliance tool for violations unrelated to driving. Using data from the New Jersey Safety and Health Outcomes (NJ-SHO), which contains complete driving records from January 2004 through December 2018, this report compares the characteristics of suspended drivers, their residential census tract, and access to public transportation and jobs. The authors concluded that the majority of suspensions are for non-driving-related offenses and that transportation-related barriers due to a suspended license are concentrated in specific communities. 

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Key Findings:

  • Of the 7.67 million licensed New Jersey drivers in 2018, 5.5 percent had a suspended license.
  • Failure to pay a fine was the leading non-driving related cause for a suspended license, constituting 58 percent of non-driving related suspensions in 2018.
  • Non-driving related suspensions are most common in low-income communities and communities with a high proportion of Black and Hispanic residents.
  • Non-driving related suspensions are concentrated in communities with better access to public transportation and nearby jobs.
Nina R. Joyce, PhD, Melissa R. Pfeiffer, MPH, Andrew R. Zullo, PharmD PhD, Jasjit Ahluwalia, MD, and Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH
Journal of Transport & Health