Federal Court Rules That Revoking Driver’s Licenses for Non-Payment of Court Fees Is Unconstitutional

The law in Tennessee stated that failure to pay court fines and other fees associated with an arrest or imprisonment that lasted more than a year is grounds for taking away a person’s driver’s license. The consequences of the law for such individuals means that they will have a more difficult time to earn income, as many employment opportunities require a valid driver’s license. Additionally, driving to and from work without a valid driver’s license runs the risk of getting fined or arrested if caught.

The lawsuit was filed by two individuals who were not able to make their payments and fell further behind with the revocation of their driver’s licenses. The court’s ruling was based on the interpretation that the law makes the situations for such individuals worse and drives them further into their debts. Additionally, records have shown that the law was ineffective in collecting debts and discouraging non-payments.

Additional Reading:

Federal Court Says Taking People’s Drivers Licenses Away For Failure To Pay Court Fees Is UnconstitutionalTechdirt (June 11, 2018)

Thomas et al v. Haslam et al Memorandum

Thomas et al v. Haslam et al Opinion

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