Reckless Lawmaking: How Debt-Based Driver's License Suspension Laws Impose Harm and Waste Resources

Document Date: April 19, 2021

This ACLU research report, “Reckless Lawmaking: How Debt-Based Driver’s License Suspension Laws Impose Harm and Waste Resources,” documents the pervasive practice of using driver’s license suspension as a consequence for unpaid fines and fees.

Through policy analysis and individual interviews with those who had their license suspended, this report provides an in-depth examination of this common practice of debt-based suspensions and demonstrates how court ordered monetary obligations, or “fines and fees,” are inextricably linked to over-policing, criminalization, and mass incarceration. It provides detailed recommendations for policymakers and DMVs, calls for lawmakers to more accurately consider the value of continuing to fund government services through predatory fines and fees in light of the consequent harm, and proposes concrete policy reforms for states and municipalities.

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