The Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act to Radically Change Traffic Debt
Everyone hates getting slapped with a traffic ticket, especially when it carries with it a costly fine. For many, this will only be a minor annoyance, especially if the fee is not exorbitant. For others in a more delicate financial situation, receiving an expensive ticket can be devastating to their finances – especially if they already have several other unpaid traffic tickets accumulating debt. The often-inflated traffic tickets fine can represent an undue financial burden on families doing their best to get by, especially in the midst of the economic upheaval caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Worse still, unpaid traffic debt can lead to driver’s license suspensions. This leads to a cascading series of problems and additional hardships: Many can lose their jobs as a result of no longer having a valid driver’s license, and research indicates as many as 75% of drivers continue to operate vehicles out of necessity despite a license suspension. Their suspension means they are not eligible for auto insurance, resulting in a higher likelihood of uninsured drivers out on the road. None of this happens out of negligence but instead an inability for drivers to pay, ultimately disenfranchising the most financially vulnerable among us.
Fortunately, the New York State Senate joined the Assembly in addressing this endemic problem on July 22, 2020, by passing The Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act. As the legislation’s name would imply, the plan would end the practice of suspending licenses as a result of traffic debt. The state noted that a majority of suspensions occur as a result of traffic debt, which helped serve as an impetus for pursuing the change; almost 1.7 license suspension were issued as a result of traffic debt between January 2016 and November 2018. Drivers whose licenses are currently suspended as a result of traffic debt would see reinstations without experiencing additional charges.
In addition to eliminating the suspension of licenses as a result of traffic debt, the legislation aims to introduce an affordable repayment plan for those who cannot immediately pay in full. Monthly payments would consist of either $10 or 2% of the individual’s monthly income, whichever amount is greater.
The bill now goes to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature. Sponsors hope the legislation, if passed into law, will do much to help impoverished and minority communities throughout the state, pointing out that traffic debt-related suspensions are nearly 9 times higher in the 10 poorest communities when compared with the 10 wealthiest.
The legislation represents a meaningful step forward in reducing the burdens on already struggling individuals and their families. Should the bill become law, drivers will no longer fear losing their license – and consequently their job and even their home – as a result of aggressively punitive traffic ticket fines.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket or License Suspension? We Can Help.
For more than 3 decades, our team at Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. has helped New York state residents fight erroneous traffic tickets, fees, and resulting license suspensions. Our founding attorney, Martin A. Kron, served as a traffic court judge for 3 years, giving him a unique edge in his understanding of the legal mechanisms involved with contesting and rescinding traffic violations. We strive to provide our clients with the vigorous advocacy their case deserves. Should you retain our services, we pledge to provide you with the exceptional legal services that have made us a lifeline to our community.
If you are facing what you feel are unjust traffic ticket fines or a related suspension, give us a call at (212) 235-1525 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.