WILMINGTON, Del. — In a letter to Congressional leaders, more than 50 organizations, including civil rights groups and local governments, expressed support for the Driving for Opportunity Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) to create incentives to stop debt-based driver’s license suspensions.
Nationwide, at least 11 million people have their driver’s licenses suspended because they cannot pay fines or fees, not for any public safety reasons. This makes it harder for Americans to go to work to pay off their debts and places an unnecessary burden on police to enforce suspensions, expending resources that should go to public safety, increasing hostilities in the communities they serve, and putting officers and citizens at increased risk of infection during a pandemic.
“In order for our economy to flourish again, we must stop taking away people’s licenses for ‘driving while broke’. We must remove unnecessary barriers that keep individuals from finding and keeping employment. Driver’s license suspension should only be used to address dangerous driving and not as a collection tool. Debt-based driver’s license suspension serves no public safety purpose, while crippling those who are struggling with poverty,” the signatories wrote. “The federal government should do everything it can to assist states in ending debt-based driver’s license suspensions. By providing states with financial assistance to help reinstate licenses that were suspended for unpaid fines and fees, the Driving for Opportunity Act will expand the economy and improve public safety.”
Since the bipartisan bill was introduced two weeks ago, it has continued to garner support from a variety of organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National District Attorneys Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Urban League, and Instacart.
As of today, a broad coalition of 78 groups spanning the political spectrum, including civil rights and civil liberties advocates, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defenselawyers, progressives, conservatives, local governments, and businesses have endorsed the Driving for Opportunity Act. For a full list of supportive groups, please click here.
The text of the letter and list of signers is available here.