Democrats push to end drivers license suspension law

By Keya Vakil

March 26, 2019

An estimated 638,000 Virginians are currently affected by drivers license suspension for not paying court fines – a practice, which has been called a modern “debtor’s prison.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam proposed a budget amendment that would end the practice of suspending licenses over unpaid court fees and fines.

Surrounded by state officials and staff from the Legal Aid Justice Center, Northam explained his decision: “The practice of suspending a person’s driver’s license for nonpayment of court fines and costs is inequitable — it’s past time we end it.”

“A driver’s license is critical to daily life, including a person’s ability to maintain a job. Eliminating a process that envelops hundreds of thousands of Virginians in a counterproductive cycle is not only fair, it’s also the right thing to do.”

This comes after four Republicans on the House transportation subcommittee voted to kill a bill that would have repealed the law.

The amendment is now included in the latest budget bill, which means the entire General Assembly will vote on the amendment on April 3.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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