Bill would end widespread license suspensions for traffic debt
Today, the Nevada legislature approved a bill that would end the widespread practice of suspending an individual’s driver’s license when they cannot afford to pay fines and fees for a ticket. minor traffic.
The vast majority of Nevada driver’s license suspensions relate to tickets residents cannot afford. Between July 2017 and June 2019, more than 38,000 Nevadans had their driver’s licenses suspended because they could not afford to pay fines and court costs.
SB219 is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Canizzaro and co-sponsored by MP Ceclia Gonzalez, who sponsored a similar bill in the Assembly. Legislation will help thousands of safe drivers regain the freedom to drive automatically reinstating – and free of charge – licenses that have been suspended for legal debt.
“This is a victory for all Nevadans – especially those who have been caught in a cycle of poverty due to traffic debt,” said Member of the Gonzalez Assembly. “I am honored to have co-sponsored such an important piece of legislation that impacts the lives of our constituents.”
Ending debt-based license suspensions enjoys broad bipartisan support. In the past four years alone, 17 U.S. states – including red states like Mississippi, Idaho, Montana, Utah, West Virginia, Texas and Arkansas – They succeeded major reforms to curb debt-based driver’s license suspensions.
President Biden’s Platform includes reform of fines and fees, while Vice President Harris previously co-sponsored the federal government Driving Act for Opportunities. This bipartite federal legislation – which was reintroduced this year and past the Senate Judiciary Committee last month – would encourage US states to end debt-based driver’s license suspensions by providing them with additional federal funding. If the Driving for Opportunity Act is passed and Governor Sisolak signs SB219, Nevada will be eligible for these funds.
“After a decade of advocacy, we were pleased to work with the sponsors of the bill, legislative leaders and to partner with the Fines Fees Justice Center to support SB219 this legislative session,” said Yvette Williams, President of the Clark County Black Caucus. “We are celebrating the end of debt-based driver’s license suspensions that prevent Nevadans from caring for their families. Nevada’s roads will be safer thanks to the bipartisan leadership and support of the Nevada Legislature. “
Without a license, many Nevadans lose the ability to work, care for their children, and access basic needs. Driving is such a necessity that 75% of people continue to drive after their license is suspended. If caught, they can be arrested and jailed for driving with a suspended license, which is one of the most common criminal charges in Nevada. After their arrest, people face more fines and fees, and are often incarcerated long enough to miss their rent or lose their jobs.
“This is a major step towards ending the criminalization of poverty,” said Nick Shepack of the ACLU of Nevada. “This practice has targeted the most vulnerable among us. Let’s be clear, in much of Nevada the ability to drive cannot be separated from the ability to work. We congratulate elected officials for taking this important step. “
A study found that 42% of people lost their jobs after their driver’s license was suspended. Of those who found a new job, 88% reported a drop in pay. Another study of Phoenix, Arizona, found that the median annual income loss after license suspension was $ 36,800 per person.
“Today’s vote is a win-win for struggling families and Nevada’s economy,” mentionned Leisa moseley, Nevada State Director at the Fines and Fees Justice Center. “This is another important step towards ending our state’s two-tier justice system where the poor – and especially communities of color – are disproportionately punished. With his signing, Governor Sisolak can have a profoundly positive impact on the economy of our state and thousands of lives across Nevada.