If your license has been suspended for unpaid traffic tickets, I've got some exciting news for you.
The Driver's Licenses Suspension Reform Act is a new bill that, if signed into law by Governor Cuomo, will bar the DMV from suspending licenses because of unpaid fines, fees or failure to appear in court.
Not only would the bill help future drivers keep their licenses, but anyone whose license is currently suspended for any of the above reasons would be retroactively reinstated.
That doesn't mean you're off the hook if you have unpaid tickets – the bill also calls for a payment plan of $10/month or 2% of your income, whichever is greater. However, for many who have lost their ability to drive, this will be a very welcome alternative to being without transport or risking jail time if they get behind the wheel.
Why has this bill gained so much traction?
It seems the State of New York has finally decided to join the ranks of Texas, Montana, Idaho, California, Mississippi, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Oregon, who have all realized that making it more difficult for low-income families to get to their jobs probably hasn't had the motivating effects they'd hoped.
While the threat of a license suspension is a pretty good motivation for those that can afford their tickets, many polls indicate that most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and that they don't have money saved up for unexpected and emergency expenses.
In fact, according to the Driven by Justice Coalition, almost 1.7 million New Yorkers had their licenses suspended between January 2016 and April 2018 because of traffic debt, furthuring a vicious cycle of poverty for many.
This kind of legislation is especially timely as many are struggling more than ever with the economy in the toilet and the country nearly locked down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only will this change provide relief for many families; but the more people driving in their own private vehicles (and not public transit), the better it is for public health!
What does this mean for me?
If your license has been suspended for unpaid fines, fees, or failure to appear in court – it seems like you may be back back on the road (legally) very soon.
At this point in time, it isn't clear how long it will take for this to pass into law. There's also still a chance it won't pass, but this doesn't appear likely, as it's been approved by both the New York Senate and Assembly. Hang tight. When we have an update, we'll post it here.
What do you think of this new bill? The best thing since sliced bread or a corruption of the justice system? I'd love to hear your opinion below in the comments.