Most people are well aware that your driver's license can be suspended
if you exhibit dangerous driving behaviors. For example, license suspension
is a common penalty for motorists who drive under the influence, drive
recklessly, or accumulate too many traffic infractions and points. In
many jurisdictions and states across the country, however,
motorists can also have their licenses suspended for reasons entirely unrelated
to their driving abilities and safety records.
In a recent segment aired on NPR's
All Things Considered, the program discussed a recent trend involving a large number of license
suspensions given for reasons unrelated to driving. According to NPR,
some drivers are having their licenses suspended for:
- Failing to pay fines/ traffic tickets
- Falling behind on child support payments
- Drug possession offenses
- Bouncing checks
- Not paying college loans
- Graffiti / littering
- Minor juvenile crimes, including truancy, false identification, and shoplifting
One of the primary concerns about suspending a driver's license for
these reasons is that they have nothing to do with a person's driving
safety record or their ability to drive. They can also create undue hardship,
especially for those with fewer financial resources. One young woman profiled
in the NPR segment was unable to get her driver's license for a new
job because she had failed to pay off a shoplifting ticket she received
as a minor. Her punishment was to have her driver's license suspended
for two years from the day she was eligible to receive it.
Another problem with the practice is that law enforcement and government-funded
motor vehicle administrations spend too much time and money enforcing
suspensions for petty crimes, minor offenses, and reasons unrelated to
driving. Opponents believe time would be better spent focusing on drivers
who have demonstrated risky behaviors that threaten public safety.
Unfortunately the practice of suspending driver's licenses for these
reasons is more common than most may think. In fact, one professor from
the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey found that
roughly 40% of people with suspended licenses in the U.S. received the
suspension for reasons other than bad driving.
Advocates in many states are noticing the trend and how it can unfairly
drivers - and many of them are taking action to pass new laws and create
new programs that help those impacted most. At the Law Offices of Virginia
L. Landry, Inc., our legal team also offers our support and services to
drivers who would like to learn more about protecting their driving privileges.
If you have questions about driver's license suspensions and how we
contact our firm today or visit our
DMV Law website.