Disparity Is Seen in California Driver’s License Suspensions

Drivers in California who are unable to pay traffic fines are frequently having their licenses suspended - a policy that has had a disproportionate impact on poor and working-class people, according to a study released Wednesday.
News Story (California, NATIONAL)

Timothy Williams
New York Times (NYT)
April 8, 2015
Link to story

Tags: Civil Rights

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


The accumulation of fees and penalties for late payment increased her fine to $2,900, and the woman — identified in the report only as “Alyssa” — was fired from her job as a bus driver because she no longer possessed a valid driver’s license and is now receiving public assistance, according to the report, which was prepared by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, which worked in conjunction with other California legal aid groups.

“These suspensions make it harder for people to get and keep jobs, further impeding their ability to pay their debt,” the report said. “Ultimately, they keep people in long cycles of poverty that are difficult, if not impossible to overcome.”

The report, “Not Just a Ferguson Problem — How Traffic Courts Drive Inequality in California,” found that in California, four million people — 17 percent of adults with licenses in the state — had their licenses suspended as recently as 2013 because they had failed to pay fines or to appear in court.