Va. Senate unanimously passes bill to end driver’s license suspensions for unpaid court fines

Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Senate unanimously passed legislation Monday that would put an end to the practice of suspending the driver’s licenses of those who have not paid their court fines or costs.

A similar measure from the bill’s sponsor, Sen. William Stanley (R-Franklin), failed to get through the Republican-controlled House Courts of Justice subcommittee last February.

In April 2019, Virginia lawmakers voted to approve a budget amendment from Gov. Ralph Northam that reinstated licenses for more than 600,000 Virginians.

The Legal Aid Justice Center filed a federal class action suit in 2016 against the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles over allegations of an “unconstitutional scheme that unfairly punishes” people who cannot pay their court fines. In a report from 2017, the Legal Aid Justice Center said nearly a million Virginia drivers have lost their licenses due to their court debt.

On Monday, the Legal Aid Justice Center applauded the passage of the bill in the Senate and the efforts from lawmakers in a tweet.

“All Virginians must have a fair opportunity to fulfill their obligations without losing their jobs, their ability to care for their families, and their dignity,” the tweet read in part.

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