Plaintiffs allege that defendant’s practice of suspending drivers’ licenses indefinitely until all court fines and fees are paid regardless of ability to pay violates equal protection and due process.
"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."
This report analyzes the first nine months of the Phoenix Municipal Court’s driver’s license reinstatement pilot - the Compliance Assistance Program (CAP) - and calculates the economic impacts of both the suspension and reinstatement of driver’s licenses on individuals and the Phoenix community, including wages and GDP.
California’s 2017 omnibus budget bill included a provision that ends the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for failure to pay fines and fees.
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.
This report explains how the California courts’ interest in revenue collection causes a burden of debt for citizens and recommends alternatives to traditional collection methods that raise more revenue while causing less harm.
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.
This report is based on the authors’ research on traffic courts and driver’s license suspension practices in the San Francisco Bay Area. It details how much revenue courts collect from fines and fees, the harmful impacts those fees have on low-income Californians, and also advances several policy reform recommendations.