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.
Reneau got 15 tickets in a single year, including 7 $200 citations for not having a city sticker. She turned to Chapter 13 bankruptcy for debt forgiveness.
In this report, Mario Salas and Angela Ciolfi analyze driver’s license suspension policies in all 50 states and describe the harmful consequences of “license-for-payment” systems.
Demetrice Moore is a certified nursing assistant and mother of two children. In 2002, she was convicted of grand larceny, and sentenced to jail and to pay court costs, including the cost of the lawyer appointed to represent her because she was indigent. She served her jail time, but was unable to pay the court costs she owed, which resulted in the automatic suspension of her Virginia driver’s license.
"The court fines for Virginia were $611 as well as a $150 driver's license reinstatement fee to the Virginia DMV. Once my case was transferred to Illinois, where I live, I was charged by my home county another $600 for probation services fees. In total, court fees cost me $1361."
Amy Marie Palacios is a single mother with two children, who earned $20,090 in 2016 - below the federal poverty line for her three-person household. Her driver’s license was suspended in 2015 because she failed to pay the fine for a speeding ticket.
Ms. Corder drove to work with a suspended license because her job was her only source of income. She was stopped by law enforcement, received three new citations, and her car was impounded. As a result, she owed $1320 in fines and fees.
Fowler’s license was suspended because she was unable to pay three traffic tickets, but she was never notified of the suspension. In the winter of 2013, her daughter developed a fever and she drove through an ice storm to take her to the hospital fearing the emergency vehicle services would take too long to come. On her way to the hospital, a police officer pulled her over. He allowed her to continue to the hospital but still issued a speeding ticket, which cost almost $600.00. She currently owes $2121 – an amount she simply could not afford.
Kitia Harris, a 25 year-old with an eight year-old daughter, suffers from interstitial cystitis, a chronic medical condition that makes her unable to work. Her driver’s license was automatically suspended because she owed $276 for unpaid court fines and fees.
Mayes’ traffic debt started back in 1989 when he got his first traffic ticket and couldn’t afford to pay it. He missed one court date after another and also racked up more traffic citations until his total traffic ticket debt was nearly $23,000.