No more suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid traffic fines: new law explained

State News

MONROE COUNTY, N.Y. (WROC) — Drivers in New York State will no longer have their license suspended if they fail to pay a traffic fine. It’s called the Driver License Suspension Reform law, and went into effect Tuesday.

Monroe County Clerk, Jamie Romeo says the law is all about making the traffic fine process less punitive for people struggling financially.

For example, a fine costing a couple hundred dollars could spiral into more if someone can’t make a court date. In the past, a driver’s license would be automatically suspended if someone doesn’t pay.

Romeo says the effect this can have on someone is more than one might think.

“Having a personal vehicle can be a lifeline, the way you get your groceries, the way you get to an appointment, child care or the doctor’s office,” Romeo said.

According to Romeo, the current state of traffic fine transactions impacts someone’s ability to get to work and make the money needed to pay that fine.

The Driver License Suspension Reform law aims to change that. Those struggling financially can now go on the state website and apply for help with payment.

“This system is trying to create more opportunities to work with individuals and families,” Romeo said.

Under the new law’s structure, anyone with outstanding fines in need of assistance won’t need to feel the pressure of an impending license suspension. They can simply wait for information to come in the mail regarding financial support.

Those attending traffic court in the coming days and are interested in partial payment, must finish the court process and apply afterwards online.

The program is run entirely through the state — your local DMV will not be handling this.

Any funds used under the new law go toward the state DMV budget. But this doesn’t necessarily equal a loss in revenue, just delaying payment.

“Sometimes there will be applications of reducing a fee, but then often it will just be stretching out that payment to make it easier for an individual to pay,” Romeo said.

While some have voiced concerns over unsafe behavior on the road caused by the loosened fine system, officials say the law was put in place to solve a much bigger issue.

According to Romeo, Rochester has some of the highest levels of poverty than anywhere else in the country and traffic debt can only make matters worse. The change in law applies to most traffic tickets, your license however could still be suspended for other situations, such as driving while impaired, probationary violations or speeding in a work zone.

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