Driver’s license suspensions push poor deeper into poverty, report says

Unpaid traffic court penalties are leading to driver's license suspensions for many of California's poor trapping then in a cycle of debt.

News Story (California)

Lee Romney
Los Angeles Times (LA Times)
April 8, 2015
Link to story

Tags: Driver's license suspension

Organizations mentioned/involved: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR), Western Center on Law & Poverty (WCLP) (CA), A New Way of Life (Los Angeles)


Traffic-court fines layered with escalating fees and penalties have led to driver’s license suspensions for 4.2 million Californians — or one in six drivers — pushing many low-income people deeper into poverty, a report released Wednesday by a coalition of legal aid groups found.

The report calls for, among other things, an end to license suspensions for unpaid tickets and a reduction in fees and penalties that raise a $100 fine to $490 — or $815 if the initial deadline to pay is missed.


But recent figures released by the Legislative Analyst’s Office show that uncollected court-ordered debt has grown to more than $10 billion.

“It doesn’t work,” said Meredith Desautels, an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, the lead author of the report.