Equal Justice Under Law

 

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Driver's License Suspension

 

Many states in the U.S. suspend People's driver's licenses, even those with safe driving records, simply because they are too poor to pay their traffic tickets or court costs.

Such wealth-based schemes not only trap our most vulnerable citizens in a vicious cycle of poverty, but they make no sense. Unable to drive, people often lose their jobs or have a hard time finding employment, making it even more unlikely that they will be able to pay their debts to the state. Furthermore, residents with suspended licenses cannot fulfill daily responsibilities like taking their children to school, caring for elderly family members, or going to the doctor’s office.

Equal Justice Under Law is on the forefront of the movement to end this discriminatory practice and restore driving rights to thousands of Americans living in poverty. We currently have class action lawsuits pending in Michigan and Montana.


Ending Excessive Punishment

Losing a driver’s license is an irrational punishment that goes far beyond the initial fine. It is an attack on a person’s independence, pride, and character. To take away someone’s ability to drive simply because they are too poor to pay a ticket is unfair, unjust, and does not accomplish its intended goal.

Stopping wealth-based driver's license suspensions would help hundreds of thousands of American drivers which will lead to reunited families and restored communities. 

 

 

 

 

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Fowler v. Johnson

Date Filed: May 04, 2017

In 2010 alone, Michigan suspended 397,826 licenses for failure to pay court debt and failure to appear. Many of these people are too poor to pay, meaning that thousands of Michiganders are punished simply for being poor....

 

DiFrancesco v. Bullock

Date Filed: August 31, 2017

Every year Montana suspends the licenses of an estimated 10,000 residents because they are unable to pay court debts, even though many are simply too poor to pay. Montana does not take the driver’s ability to pay into consideration before suspension, nor does it offer a community service option or a reasonable payment plan....

 

Harold v. Richards

Date Filed: January 10, 2018

Between 2011 and 2016, Pennsylvania suspended the licenses of nearly 149,000 drivers solely because of drug-related offenses – even if that offense was unrelated to driving and the offender had a perfect traffic safety record....

 

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