On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that would end suspending driver’s licenses due to incurring debt.
SB154, sponsored by Sen. Will Barfoot, states that courts may not suspend an individual’s driver’s license for failure to pay a fine, fee, or court cost as a result of a traffic violation unless the individual fails to make six or more of the required payments after the court’s order. However, this does not apply to people with a commercial driver’s license or DUI.
Barfoot stated on the Senate floor that the intent of the bill was to “give a little grace” to individuals who may miss or unable to make a payment.
“All court cost fines have to be paid it’s just that we give a little grace when it comes to a post-ajudication review if somebody misses that,” Barfoot said.
Several non-profit organizations supported the passage of the bill because debt-based suspensions created adverse ripple effects for those penalized.
Two of the organizations, Alabama Arise and Alabama Appleseed both have reports detailing how suspending licenses makes it harder for individuals to pay the fine due to no longer having a form of transportation to work. This then hurts the economy of Alabama and forces some to resort to selling drugs or theft to pay the debt.
“When someone loses their license, they often also lose their ability to keep or obtain employment,” according to a statement from the Alabama Arise report. “It makes it virtually impossible to obtain the funds needed to pay for their ticket.”
The current cost to reinstate an individual’s suspended license is $100.
The bill passed the Senate 32-0 and moves to the House of Representatives.