Judge orders state to stop suspending drivers licenses because of unpaid fines

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A federal judge Tuesday ordered the state of Tennessee to immediately stop suspending drivers licenses because of unpaid traffic fines.

The preliminary injunction in the statewide class action lawsuit also orders the state to waive reinstatement fees for anyone whose license has been suspended because of fines.

People with suspended licenses should contact the Tennessee Department of Safety to request reinstatement.

Attorneys who filed the suit called it a major victory for nearly 300,000 people in Tennessee who have had their drivers licenses suspended because they couldn’t afford to pay tickets and fees.

“With this ruling, people will be able to go to work, see their families and friends, get to the grocery store and the doctor’s office, and do all of the things that many of us take for granted and that give life meaning,” said Tara Mikkilineni, Attorney at Civil Rights Corps.

The statewide class action lawsuit was brought by Memphis-based Just City, the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, Civil Rights Corps, and the law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz.

A federal judge in July ruled the state’s practice of revoking a person’s license due to the inability to pay court fees is unconstitutional. The state said it would appeal that ruling.

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