ACLU Sues Dept. of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles for Suspending Licenses of Defendants Too Poor to Pay Court Costs | ACLU of Florida
Written by Moses & Rooth on September 20, 2013
The ACLU is filing a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The law suit is alleging that the DMV is violating the due process and equal protection rights of individuals by suspending their license without a hearing to show that the person has the ability to pay their outstanding fees. These outstanding fees can easily exceed $1000.00 and traps the poor into a cycle of non-payment and continuous arrests for driving without a license.
Over 200,000 have had their license suspended due to an inability to pay their financial obligations. Often times these people have no idea that their license has gone into suspension. While it is easy to state that if your license is suspended then you should just not drive, but in reality this simply compounds the problem as someone who is financially unable to pay costs would be in an even worse place economically if they cannot drive to work. They are left with a choice of either risking a criminal arrest for driving on a suspended license or not going to work to support themselves and their families.
I believe that forcing the DMV to show that someone has the ability to pay prior to suspending their license is just. If someone has the ability to pay they will do so to avoid the suspension and a court hearing. However, if a court finds that someone is unable to pay, perhaps a restrictions on their license is appropriate until all fines and financial obligation are taken care of by the person.