This fact sheet for Virginia drivers provides guidance on how they can go about reinstating driver’s licenses that were suspended for unpaid court debt.
This budget amendment prohibits Virginia courts from suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid fines and fees between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.
This bill, which did not pass, would have ended driver's license suspensions for unpaid fines and fees in Virginia.
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."
The legislation provides protocol for how courts can authorize payment plans, deferred payments, and community service in lieu of immediate, full monetary payments.
This rule creates a standardized schedule for fines that can be imposed without a court hearing (i.e., fines imposed by a clerk or magistrate after a motorist enters a written guilty plea and waives their court hearing). The rule provides that clerks and magistrates may not impose any fine amount that differs from this schedule, but the schedule does not restrict judges’ discretion in court hearings.
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.
During his search for new employment, Stinnie received four traffic citations that totaled $1002.00 in fines and fees. He was unable to pay, and his license was suspended. The first time he knew his license had been suspended was when he was stopped and cited by the police for driving with a suspended driver’s license.
This report is the result of a collaborative research project from 20 community-based organizations that studied the costs of incarceration on families across 14 states.