A bill which would end the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid fines and driver responsibility assessments has past both the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate and is currently awaiting the signature of Governor Cuomo. The new law, if signed could impact millions of New Yorker’s who are currently suspended for unpaid fines and fees such as Driver Responsibility Assessments. In the 26 months from January 2016 until April 2018 New York issued nearly 1.7 million suspensions for traffic debt. The suspensions create a cycle that is hard to get out of since, often, those with suspended licenses, cannot work to pay the debts.
Driving with a suspended license that is suspended based upon unpaid fines or driver responsibility assessments can constitute anywhere from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on a number of factors and can have serious consequences including mandatory probation and/or jail.
Similar laws that prohibit suspensions based upon traffic debt have already been passed in at least 9 states including large states such as Texas and California as part of a national trend to stop punishing poverty by eliminating cash bail and terminating suspensions based upon unpaid debts.