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Court dockets drop after D.A. stops prosecuting some drivers license cases

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every year, thousands of people end up in Shelby County courtrooms for driving with revoked licenses, putting a huge burden on the criminal justice system.

Because of that, the District Attorney's office is no longer prosecuting cases where drivers lost their licenses for financial reasons, such as owing money to the Tennessee Department of Safety, one of the clerks' offices or child support.

About 3,600 cases have been dropped since this policy went into effect seven weeks ago, allowing prosecutors to put their attention elsewhere.

District Attorney Amy Weirich says prosecuting these cases takes attention away from violent crimes.

"We are getting those cases off the docket," she said.

She says it can also add to the person's financial issues, contributing to a cycle of poverty.

You can still be arrested and charged for driving without a valid license, as it remains against the law. But most cases won't result in prosecution or more fines.

"I know if I was going through hardships and stuff, I was living paycheck to paycheck, I wouldn't want to be charged on top of everything else.," driver Daniel Smith said.

If you're trying to get your license reinstated, contact the Tennessee Department of Safety in person or online or the clerk's office in which you owe money.