Delinquent fines no longer results in license suspension

Published 7:00 am Thursday, December 21, 2017

Mississippi drivers who have had their driver’s license suspended for failing to pay a traffic related fine will have their license reinstated at the beginning of January, after advocates complained that it was another way the state was criminalizing poverty, a press release by the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

Also, the Department of Public Safety will waive the $100 reinstatement fee, according to the release.

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The news was released Tuesday after an agreement was made between the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law and the Department of Public Safety.

According to a release from SPLC, the DPS will contact affected motorists and guide them through the necessary steps required to have their license reinstated.

Over 95 percent of residents in Mississippi drive to their workplace. Low-income citizens who have their license suspended due to unpaid traffic tickets are put in a situation where they have to choose between paying the fine or using that money for food, housing or other bills, the release said.

“We commend the state of Mississippi for taking steps to ensure that in the future, no one will lose their license if the only reason they failed to pay a traffic ticket is that they simply did not have enough money,” Sam Brooke, SPLC deputy legal director said in the release. “We also welcome Mississippi’s decision to reinstate licenses that had been previously suspended because people were unable to pay. Poverty is not a traffic crime.”

This change could reinstate driver licenses to over 100,000 citizens across Mississippi. However, if a license was suspended because of driving offenses such as reckless driving or a DUI, those licenses will not be renewed. Individuals who have questions about their driver’s license status, contact the Driver Records Division at (601) 987-1224.