WILMINGTON, Del. – In case you missed it, the Washington Post editorial board endorsed the Driving for Opportunity Act, bipartisan legislation introduced this month by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) to incentivize states to end debt-based driver’s license suspensions. An estimated 11 million people nationwide have their license suspended because of unpaid fines and fees, not for any public safety reasons.
Washington Post: Millions have unfairly lost their driver’s licenses over unpaid fines. Here’s a promising fix.
Suspending driver’s licenses as a penalty for non-payment of fines and fees unrelated to public safety is a self-defeating policy. It intensifies pressure on individuals already struggling with job loss and financial hardship, and it adds strain to relations between police officers and the public they serve. It makes the slope of failure even more slippery for millions of the most vulnerable Americans. And it’s the law of the land in 42 states.
In the Senate, a bill that would encourage states to repeal such laws was introduced this month. In a hopeful sign, a Republican and a Democrat are its two main sponsors: Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Sen.?Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.).
Advocates across the ideological spectrum — the Koch network to the ACLU — support the bill, known as the Driving for Opportunity Act. And no wonder: It doesn’t take much explaining to see that punishing poverty is a losing strategy, and one this country can ill afford.
The full editorial is available here.