Understanding the Impact of Driver’s License Suspension: Lay Opinion in Impacted and Non-Impacted Populations

38 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2020 Last revised: 24 Feb 2021

See all articles by William Crozier

William Crozier

Duke University School of Law

Brandon L. Garrett

Duke University School of Law

Karima Modjadidi

Duke University School of Law

Date Written: July 7, 2020

Abstract

The impact of low-level criminal enforcement on communities has been the subject of a growing body of scholarship and policy work. The result has been increased awareness that enforcement of minor offenses can impose unaffordable criminal debt and negatively affect other rights. Many jurisdictions suspend driving privileges for nonpayment of traffic fines or court nonappearance without considering an individual’s ability to pay. These practices affect millions of people in the United States. To investigate the impact of such suspensions, we surveyed people in North Carolina (N=853), a state with over 1.2 million such suspensions. Eighteen percent of respondents reported having had a suspended license, with race and low income predicting higher suspension rates, and increased difficulty for daily activities and ability to pay for housing. Thus, suspension policies are of questionable deterrence value and little public safety benefit, but impose real hardships. We suggest the simplest policy change is legislation barring suspension for non-safety reasons. We also discuss other more incremental options, as well as challenges in implementing restoration efforts for those affected. Comprehensive local-level efforts, which we describe, are likely necessary to address the challenges and harms associated with driver’s license suspensions.

Keywords: Driver’s license suspension, traffic enforcement, misdemeanors, collateral consequences, inequality

Suggested Citation

Crozier, William and Garrett, Brandon L. and Modjadidi, Karima, Understanding the Impact of Driver’s License Suspension: Lay Opinion in Impacted and Non-Impacted Populations (July 7, 2020). Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2020-70, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3645308 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3645308

William Crozier (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Brandon L. Garrett

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States
919-613-7090 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.brandonlgarrett.com/

Karima Modjadidi

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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