Advocates Say Traffic Fine Reforms Would Reduce Economic Barriers

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would reinstate driving privileges to thousands of Vermonters whose licenses were suspended due to failure to pay a traffic fine.
News Story (Vermont)

Elizabeth Hewitt (Vermont)
January 10, 2016

Organizations mentioned/involved: Vermont Legal Aid (VLA)


Some 59,000 Vermonters currently have suspended licenses, according to a task force report submitted to the Legislature last week. More than half — approximately 34,000 licenses — are suspended because of failure to pay a traffic fine.

Driver’s license suspensions have been the subject of statewide and national scrutiny. Vermont’s system as it currently works is “essentially criminalizing poverty,” Vermont Legal Aid attorney Christopher Curtis told legislators last week.

Fines for minor traffic violations are often out of reach for low-income Vermonters, Curtis said. When one fine goes unpaid, driving privileges are suspended, but that person might continue to drive to get to work and pick up children from school, he said. If caught, the driver is charged with additional violations.