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Personal Narrative: Andria Collins

Andria Collins is a mother raising eight children in Oklahoma City, OK. She has been struggling with court debt and drivers’ license suspensions for over a decade. She first found out her license was suspended for unpaid traffic tickets when she was pulled over because her car tag light was out in early 2016. This was a surprise to her as she was working at Hertz at the time and had been cleared to drive the vehicles as a duty of her job. Andria ultimately lost her job at Hertz and as a result experienced 10 months of homelessness. During this period, she relied on old coworkers, extended family, and church members to house her and her family.

Andria has had no choice but to continue driving even though her license is suspended.  Andria’s 12-year-old son suffers from sickle cell anemia which requires frequent appointments. She lives in fear that if he has a crisis she will not be able to take him to the hospital, and if she calls 911 she will not be able to leave her other children alone at home. In addition to taking care of her children, she also needs to drive to get to work. This past year Andria worked as a chef at a sorority house in a neighboring town. She had to be there at 5am to cook breakfast “for her girls,” as she refers to them; this was too early to access public transportation. Andria’s fear and anxiety of being arrested while driving has affected her mental health as well. Without her license she says she’s “not even [her]self” anymore, she’s lost some of her drive and carries herself differently with the feeling that she’s “never going to get out of debt.”

Every time Andria goes to court she tells the judge that her court debt is taking away from her ability to provide necessities to her children. Right now her only source of income is doing hair for family and friends at her house. She is 34 years old and still in debt for traffic tickets from her 20s. She will not be able to get her license reinstated until she pays off this debt, which she does not foresee happening in the near future.

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