Tennessee ordered to stop license suspensions for indigence
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) —
A federal judge in Nashville has ordered the state to stop suspending the drivers licenses of people who are unable to pay traffic fines and court costs.
In an order Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger also instructed the state to allow indigent drivers to get suspended licenses back without fees.
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security released the following statement regarding the judge's order:
"The Department of Safety and Homeland Security has received the order. It will stop suspensions of licenses, as the Court requires, and it will promptly review the balance of the order to determine the appropriate next steps. Please be patient as we work through this process."
The lawsuit is the second of two similar cases. The earlier one dealt with people who lost licenses because they were unable to pay fines related to criminal convictions. Trauger ruled against the state in July, and Tennessee appealed.
Plaintiffs argue the suspensions leave people unable to work, making it even harder for them to pay court debts.
The rulings potentially affect tens of thousands of Tennesseans and could have implications for similar policies in dozens of other states.