Thousands in Mississippi may get drivers’ licenses back

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JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi will stop suspending people’s driver’s licenses purely because they haven’t paid court fines and fees, and tens of thousands of people who lost driving privileges could get them back.

Department of Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher made the joint announcement Tuesday with lawyers from the MacArthur Justice Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center, after advocates complained it was another way that the state was criminalizing poverty.

The state will begin reinstating licenses starting in Jauary. Mississippi will waive its $100 reinstatement fee, sending letters to anyone who benefits. Officials say people should await written notification before driving again. People whose licenses were suspended for additional reasons won’t get them back.

Mississippi becomes the fifth state to require a consideration of ability to pay before suspending a license.