Michigan’s legislature passed a bill to end driver responsibility fees in the state. Under this bill, the state will cease to assess new “driver responsibility” fees in October and all outstanding fees — totaling $637 million — will be forgiven.
These fees were passed in 2003 to punish drivers who had more than 7 points on their license (for things such as traffic tickets), and these unfair fees ended up trapping many Michiganders in a vicious cycle of poverty.
Equal Justice Under Law praises the Michigan legislature for finally ending and forgiving these onerous driver responsibility fees. However, this legislation only touches the tip of the iceberg for many Michigan drivers. An estimated more than 100,000 drivers will still have suspended licenses solely because they are unable to pay fines and late fees, and this legislation does nothing to restore driving rights for those whose only crime is being too poor to pay court debt. The same reasoning that convinced the legislature to end driver responsibility fees should also lead the state to end its driver’s license suspension scheme. Suspending licenses of people who are too poor to pay their court debt is both unfair and bad public policy.
With your help, Equal Justice Under Law will continue to fight to make sure that all such wealth-based inequality comes to an end.