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Living in Suspension – Consequences of Driver’s License Suspension Policies

In this report, the Chicago Jobs Council describes how suspending a person’s driver’s license for unpaid fines and fees can prevent them from ever paying off their debt and destabilize their finances. People who have their driver’s licenses suspended for unpaid fines and fees suffer from job loss and reduced employment opportunities, experience difficulty providing for their families, and endure other types of collateral consequences.

The report is a result of a survey and interviews with directly impacted Chicago residents. In the report, Chicago Jobs Council also provides some recommendations to improve Chicago’s unmanageable payment plans and antiquated notification system.

You can read the full text of the report here.

Key Findings
  • “52% of respondents with non-driving [related] suspensions have lost or missed out on a job because of their license [suspension].”
  • Of survey respondents with non-driving [related] suspensions, 72% report owe more than $500 and 31% owe over $3,000 [that must be paid] before they can re-obtain a valid license.”
  • Of respondents with a household income under $10,000, only 38% reported having a valid license, while 91% of respondents making $75,000 or more reported having a valid license. White respondents were almost twice as likely as Black respondents to have a [valid] license.”
Recommendations
  • Eliminate driver’s license suspension as a penalty for failure to pay parking tickets, failure to pay child support, and other non-driving violations.
  • Revise and standardize payment plans for tickets, fines, and fees. Allow people with limited income to pay reasonable amounts each month and continue to drive.
  • Modernize outdated notification processes related to anything that can lead to license suspension, jail time, or other life-altering criminal justice consequences.
  • End municipal policies that prevent the hiring of individuals who owe money to the city.
  • Eliminate local law enforcement practices that incentivize generating ticket revenue.
Eric Halvorson, Chicago Jobs Council
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