Press Releases

ICYMI: Miami Herald: Suspending Driver’s Licenses for Unpaid Debt Obligations is Counterproductive

(Miami, FL) – Recently, The LIBRE Initiative’s Daniel Martinez, published an op-ed that appeared in the Miami Herald print edition titled: Suspending Driver’s Licenses for Unpaid Debt Obligations is Counterproductive.

In the op-ed, Daniel Martinez, coalitions director for The LIBRE Initiative writes:

“The primary purpose of licensing drivers is to promote safety on the roads.

To obtain and hold a license, drivers must demonstrate a basic skill level, and comply with rules that protect their safety and that of others. When the licensing process is used for other purposes — including to attempt to force payment of outstanding government fines and fees — it can undermine those safety efforts.

 Florida should join the list of states moving away from this practice.

Our state is one of 28 that cancels drivers’ licenses for people who fail to pay fines, fees or other costs. In Florida, 1.2 million drivers face debt- related suspensions each year. The suspensions generally come without any regard of a person’s ability to pay. And while state law requires that they be provided reasonable payment plans, this mandate is often disregarded.”

When it comes to prompting payment of these outstanding bills, it’s not clear the threat of losing a license actually works. In fact, there is good evidence that it’s counter-productive and causes fewer financial obligations to be collected.

According to a recent study of select Florida counties, 77.12 percent of suspensions im- posed by the state from 2016- 2018 remained in effect in October 2019. This helps ex- plain why many states have moved away from the practice.”

 Background:

The LIBRE Initiative is an organization committed to empowering the Hispanic community and believes that we should remove barriers that are preventing individuals from living out their version of the American Dream. We have identified areas within our country’s criminal justice system that are making it difficult for individuals to get right with the law and become productive members of society.

 

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For interviews with a representative from The LIBRE Initiative, please contact Israel Ortega at (202) 345-9130 or Wadi Gaitan at (301) 356-2911.

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