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How Do I Get My License Unsuspended in New York?

Between January 2016 and April 2018, the state of New York issued nearly 1.7 million driver’s license suspensions for non-payment of traffic fines and non-appearance at traffic hearings. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, driver’s license suspension rates in New York are nearly 9 times higher in the state’s 10 poorest communities than in the 10 wealthiest.

Thousands of New Yorkers got their license suspended simply because they couldn’t afford to pay the fines, fees, and other penalties associated with their traffic violation. These individuals aren’t dangerous drivers — they simply could not afford to pay their ticket and suffered a license suspension as a result. Chief Policy Counsel at the Bronx Defenders Scott Levy said that driving on a suspended license was the single most common charge in New York State outside of New York City.

This counterproductive practice created a vicious cycle that was hard to escape, as drivers had limited means to resolve their tickets and were consequently placed in a position that made it even harder to pay their tickets. A suspended license makes it harder to get to work, school, appointments, and other essential places, resulting in consequences such as loss of employment, suspension or expulsion, and more.

Minority individuals are especially impacted by these debt-based license suspensions, as they are found to be stopped, ticketed, charged, and convicted for traffic violations at a disproportionate rate. As such, much change was needed for those who got suspended driver’s licenses as a result of not paying their ticket.

That change is finallys here.

Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act in NY

Effective June 29, 2021, the Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act is ending these harmful practices by:

  • Ending driver’s license suspensions for nonpayment of traffic tickets and for not appearing at a traffic hearing
  • Extending the license suspension timeframe for a failure to appear from 30 days to 90 days
  • Reinstating all driver’s licenses suspended for failure to pay or appear
  • Making affordable payment plans available for traffic debt (2% of a person’s monthly income or $25/month, whichever is greater)

The Act essentially limits the grounds for driver’s license suspensions, allows for additional notification when a person is required to appear in court, and requires income-based payment plans to resolve the fines, fees, and mandatory surcharges incurred as a result of a violation.

“For too long, the suspension of driver’s licenses due to the inability to pay traffic fines and fees has disproportionately affected low-income New Yorkers, particularly people of color,” said Claudia Wilner, Director of Litigation and Advocacy at the National Center for Law and Economic Justice.“The Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act paves the way for redressing these unfair and perverse practices that have prevented many people from maintaining employment and achieving economic security. We are pleased that New York has taken this critical step and congratulate the community of advocates who worked so hard to make it happen.”

Ready to Get Your License Unsuspended? We Can Help.

If your license got suspended due to non-payment of your traffic ticket or your failure to appear in court, our attorney can help. Thanks to the Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act, countless people in your shoes can move forward and regain their driving privileges. Allow us to help you get there.

To discuss your situation and learn how our team can serve you, get in touch with us online or at (212) 235-1525!

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