Councilmember Silverman Introduces Bill to Protect Vulnerable Residents from License Suspensions
Posted by Ashley Fox on December 05, 2017 at 5:21 PM
Earlier today, D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) introduced legislation to help low-income residents and working families with small, unpaid debts maintain their ability to live and work in the District. The Driver’s License Revocation Fairness Amendment Act of 2017 would end the city’s current practice of suspending driver’s licenses for failure to pay debts as low as $100 from parking tickets, traffic tickets, or certain court judgments.
“A recent study showed that nearly half of the individuals who have their licenses revoked lose their jobs as a result. Not to mention those who need a car for critical errands, like caring for seniors or children, but are often forced to risk a felony charge for driving without a license just to see after their families,” said Silverman.
Existing District law allows the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend a person’s driver’s license for any unpaid government-issued ticket over $100, only reinstating the license once the bill is paid. This legislation aims to protect lower-income residents and working families who are not able to pay the ticket by setting income limits for license suspensions, reinstating licenses for eligible residents, and ending license suspensions as a tool for private debt collection.
Under the bill, residents earning less than $39,000 annually or participating in a subsidy program for residents with lower incomes would be exempted from having their licenses suspended by the DMV. Residents who have previously been convicted of driving with a suspended license would also be eligible to have their license reinstated if their license was initially revoked due to now-qualifying debts. Further, insurance companies would be pro