Stinnie v. Holcomb

This case challenges the constitutionality of a Virginia statute that requires the automatic suspension of the driver’s licenses of people who fail to pay court fines and fees. No inquiry is ever made as to the defendants’ ability to pay. Reimbursement of the court-appointed lawyer’s services are also included in the fees.  Licenses are only reinstated when the court debt is paid in full or when people are able to obtain a payment plan.  A hefty down payment is required before being placed on a payment plan. Further, motorists must pay a reinstatement fee of $145.00. Nearly one million Virginians (approximately 1 in 6 drivers) currently have suspended licenses for failure to timely pay fines and fees, and from 2011-2015, Virginians were sentenced to 1.74 million days in jail for driving on a suspended license. The suspension hinders defendants from getting and keeping their jobs.


The district court dismissed the complaint in 2017, but the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and permitted plaintiffs to file an amended complaint. Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint in September 2018. The District Court heard plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction on November 15, 2018.

You can find a detailed summary and case documents via the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse.

42 U.S.C. § 1983 (alleging due process and equal protection violations)
3:16-cv-00044-NKM (W.D. Va.)
July 2016; Amended Complaint – September 2018.
Legal Aid Justice Center, McGuire Woods LLP, David Preston Baugh, University Of Virginia School of Law, Southern Poverty Law Center