Today, Equal Justice Under Law achieved a victory for people living in poverty in Michigan. A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against the state’s wealth-based driver’s license suspension system in our class action lawsuit.
Judge Linda V. Parker recognized the constitutional failings of this law and preliminarily shut down the suspension of driver’s licenses of people who are unable to pay their traffic debt because there is “a strong likelihood that Plaintiffs will show that the law violates procedural due process.” The court’s ruling could lead to the restoration of driving privileges for over 100,000 people and prevent the state’s suspensions going forward.
By granting Plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction, Judge Parker has become the first federal judge in the nation to grant a preliminary injunction against wealth-based driver’s license suspensions. Based on Equal Justice Under Law’s research, 39 states currently have laws that suspend licenses due to inability to pay court debt. Equal Justice Under Law has a pending lawsuit in Montana, and other lawsuits are underway in Virginia, California, and Tennessee.
This is an important victory for our communities and people living in poverty. License suspensions only make it less likely that people will be able to pay their debts to the state, trapping people in a cycle of poverty. We look forward to the day when this system ends permanently.