Hundreds of thousands of North Carolina drivers have a suspended license for unpaid traffic court fines and fees. The practice of suspending drivers’ licenses for unpaid fines and fees is inequitable and counterproductive. This practice disenfranchises rural drivers and those facing poverty and creates a significant obstacle to employment. Furthermore, African-American drivers are four times as likely as non-Hispanic, white drivers to have a suspended license for unpaid fines and fees. Drawing upon lessons learned from the Driver’s License Restoration Project, the Authors conclude that legislative action is needed to remedy this inequitable and inefficient system of collecting state revenue. North Carolina should cease the practice of suspending licenses for unpaid fines and fees, pursue a decrease in criminal court fees and fines overall, and implement a sliding scale structure for fees and fines that makes a fact-specific determination about an individual’s real wages and ability to pay. This recommendation would lead to greater racial and economic equity, strengthen the North Carolina economy, and increase the aggregate amount of fees and fines collected by the state. This Article is a continuation of a prior published work, The Poverty Penalty: Driver’s License Restoration In North Carolina.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.