In the USA, thousands of individuals are currently battling the financial, legal, and general consequences of driving with a suspended license. And while sure, driving with a suspended licence is never a positive thing, many of these individuals have had their licenses suspended through fault of their own, but now find themselves trapped in the vicious cycle that has plagued so many. That cycle, believe it or not, stems from the legal system’s approach to suspending licenses and the aftermath of those suspensions. The biggest and most prominent issue surrounding license suspension is the financial consequences and the impact on the livelihood of individuals who are too poor to pay the fees to reinstate their licenses, too far away from public transportation, and thus reliant on their own modes of transport. People end to drive anyway, racking up further fines and legal costs, and ultimately digging themselves deeper into the cycle through no fault of their own, other than trying to keep their lives moving ahead.
In the United States, it is the unfortunate reality that millions of drivers throughout the country are currently battling with the financial, legal, and general consequences of driving with a suspended license. When you first hear that, it sounds bad. Why drive if your license has been suspended? But here’s the thing. The vicious cycle that is currently playing out in the US among individuals who are struggling to pay their fines and thus reinstate their licence is one that, like it or not, has been ongoing for quite some time now. And unless significant legal changes are put in place to right the wrongs and turn back the tides, the odds of anything changing, of this cycle effectively breaking, are slim to none. The problem is not that drivers with suspended licenses want to break the law, but that in the name of their livelihood, they sometimes feel like they are given no other choice but to do that very thing. It is shocking, it is somewhat unfair, but it is the reality.
In LA alone, nearly 2000,000 had their licenses suspended in 2016 for no other reason than because they failed to appear in court or would not (or were unable to) pay their fines. Throughout the entire state, from years 2006 to 2013, more than 4.2 million drivers’ licenses were suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. To put that into perspective, that number is essentially the parallel of one in every six drivers in California. This is an incredibly troubling reality, and it is one that is notably present not just in California, but throughout the entire nation. Now of course, different states have somewhat different approaches to driver suspension, but ultimately the underlying issue remains the same in many (if not all) states. People will continue to drive with suspended licences if they feel they have no other choice, and when there are no efforts on the part of the government to create viable solutions for those individuals, what else can be expected? What other outcome is there?
Of course, it is also important to acknowledge that the tides are now beginning to shift in some states. The result has been an incredibly positive influence in the lives of individuals who have had their licenses suspended in the past. There are states (think New York and Alabama, for instance) that are making positive changes towards the reinstatement of suspended licenses in some circumstances. This is an ongoing battle to find a better way, but it is one that is being fought every day, with millions of peoples’ lives being changed for the better in the cases where the battle is turning into a victory. A suspended licence is never a positive thing, but thankfully, there are more and more solutions emerging for those individuals trying to find their feet again after having their licence suspended. This is just the beginning, but it is (finally) a positive step in the right direction.
The underlying reasons why driving with a suspended licence have become such a widespread issue, are troubling (to say the least). Essentially, individuals are often unable to pay their fines, due to high costs and not high enough income to do so and maintain their livelihood. What ultimately ends up occurring is that, unable to pay their fines but in need of their mode of transport, people often end up driving regardless of the current status of their licence. This sometimes inevitably leads to further legal and financial consequences when they are caught driving with a suspended license. As the financial costs mount, so too does the hole that they must find their way out of. It is a sticky slope, and it is one that requires rectifying on the part of the law to find viable solutions rather than short-lived temporary solutions that ultimately do not even work in favour of either party.