A federal judge has issued an order stopping the Michigan Secretary of State from suspending the driver’s licenses of persons with outstanding traffic fines.
This is a win for Michigan residents who struggle to pay off traffic debts and whose licenses are suspended because they are unable to pay fines.
There are about 100,000 people in Michigan with a suspended license.
While a driver’s license in Michigan is a privilege, the consequences for not having a license is harsh. Without a license you cannot drive to work, limiting your ability to earn income or get a job. The cycle continues because then you’re unable to pay off the tickets which lead to the suspended license in the first place. The unfairness of the license suspensions is glaring. The rules do not have the same impact on people who can pay off tickets.
In the Judge’s Words
Judge Linda Parker of Flint stated, “individuals lacking the means to pay their Michigan traffic debt do not receive notice and an opportunity to meaningfully challenge the threatened revocation of their licenses … And unlike many states, Michigan’s statutory scheme does not include a provision informing individuals that they can, with approval of the court, pay any traffic debt by establishing a payment plan.”
Judge Parker went on to say, “Affording individuals an opportunity at a pre-revocation hearing to request alternatives to paying their traffic debt in full would provide an incentive for them to appear in court in response to traffic citations. It likely would also increase the chance of the State recouping the debt.”
In a second hearing the Secretary of State asked the judge to freeze her ruling. The judge declined to do so.
Driving on a Suspended License Penalties
A driving on a suspended license charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by 2 points on your driving record, a $500 fine, or 93 days in jail.
The penalties for a charge that is a second or more offense are increased. The penalties are still 2 points, but a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
If you’re license is suspended, then catching a driving offense while on the suspension will increase the time of suspension.
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