How Driving While Poor Became A Crime In California

A new report shines a light on how driver's license suspensions hurt the poor.

News Story (California)

Carimah Townes
April 8, 2015
Link to story

Tags: Civil Rights

Organizations mentioned/involved: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR)


In California, a driver who commits offenses as minor as driving without a seatbelt or littering faces a $490 fine, according to a new report by a coalition of civil rights groups, entitled “Not Just a Ferguson Problem: How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California.”

Worse, if the driver, who may not be able to afford to pay such a fine, does not pay it off quickly enough or fails to appear in court, the consequence is a suspended license – a consequence that prevents them from driving to work to earn the money they need to pay off their fine.

The result is a Catch-22, where the only way to raise the money to gain back their license to drive is to drive without a license and risk even more fines for doing so.