License Suspensions for Non-Driving Reasons Seen as Alarming Trend

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 can help, contact our firm today or visit our DMV Law website.

Categories: Criminal Defense

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