RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — More than 600,000 Virginians will soon get their driver’s licenses back.
They are people who lost their driving privileges because of unpaid court costs.
“You spend $5,000 on fines but your kids is hungry, so what would you do first?” aske Madison Scott, a Henrico County man who has been suspended at least eight times.
On Wednesday, Virginia lawmakers voted to scrap suspending driver’s licenses because of court debt. Many people believe the practice unfairly punishes the poor.
Scott explains it forces him to take his chances and drive anyway.
“To be honest with you, I feel like that’s the really only way I have to feed my family,” he says.
So what will this mean for local courts? Will it kill the incentive to pay fines and costs?
Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor doesn’t think so.
“This is a very good thing for the population of people who want to do the right thing,” she said.
Taylor believes the change will give options to people in challenging financial situations. The courts will now have the ability to work out flexible payment plans.
“We are at least giving people the opportunity to maintain a license, to maintain their ability to keep employment, so that they can pay their financial responsibilities and that is a very, very good thing,” she adds.
The driver’s license reinstatement takes effect on July 1st although there are still many logistical questions about how the process will work.