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Lawsuit: Yanking licenses for unpaid court costs is unfair

(AP) — An advocacy group has filed a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s practice of suspending the driver’s licenses of people who can’t pay court costs and fines.

In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday against the commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the Legal Aid Justice Center says the state’s failure to take into account people’s financial circumstances unfairly punishes the poor.

The Legal Aid Justice Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of low-income drivers who lost their license for failing to pay court debts.

The center said in a news release that nearly 1 million Virginians currently have their licenses suspended because of unpaid court costs or fines.

The Supreme Court of Virginia was expected to consider a rule directing courts to provide affordable payment plans and allow offenders to drive so long as their payments are current. The rule is a response to reports that courts have been inconsistent in efforts to ensure payment plans are realistic.

A spokeswoman for the DMV did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Wednesday.

Additional reporting by VLW.


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One comment

  1. The Virginia State Bar also “janks” (suspends) lawyers’ licenses for not paying court costs.

    Seems analogous to me and clearly wrong.

    Rhetta M. Daniel, Esquire