In March 2017, New Orleans nonprofit Stand with Dignity sponsored a Warrant Clinic in New Orleans. Over 1,200 people (who owed an average of $8,000 in fines and fees) participated in the clinic.
The Council of the District of Columbia unanimously amended the District of Columbia Traffic Adjudication Act of 1978 to eliminate the suspension of drivers’ licenses for unpaid traffic debt or failure to appear at hearings.
This bill abolishes driver’s license suspensions for failure to pay fines and fees imposed in criminal cases, except traffic offenses.
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.
This bill would have ended the practice of suspending licenses as a sanction for nonpayment of fines and fees. It also mandated that judges reduce fines and fees and provided guidelines for determining a defendant’s ability to pay fines and fees.
Rebellious lawyering empowers those affected by the issue to come up with solutions to their own problems. It should be a collective effort between the lawyers and legal services clients and community members from grassroots organizing groups.
This bill would limit a court's ability to suspend a defendant’s driver’s license, repeal a number of statutes that treat driver’s license suspension as an enforcement mechanism for unpaid fines and fees, and amend several other statutes.
This bill creates a mechanism for Tennessee drivers who have unpaid court debt to keep their licenses from being revoked on that basis.
McDonald had received several traffic tickets, including many for driving without a license, which he could not obtain due to financial holds. When McDonald went to court to take care of his tickets, the judge refused to give him community service even though McDonald lived below the poverty line. Instead, the judge put him on a payment plan for $50 a month.
This joint report by Texas Appleseed and the Texas Fair Defense Project evaluates how often fine-only offenses - offenses punishable only by a fine and no jail sentence – in fact subject Texans to jail time and suspensions of driver’s licenses or the inability to renew a license or register a vehicle because of their inability to pay.