We support HB 2614, which would end the harmful and ineffective practice of suspending the driver’s licenses of people who fail to pay court debt in Oregon. Debt-based license suspensions trap Oregonians in vicious and often inescapable cycle of poverty and entanglement with the justice system. This counterproductive policy must come to an end.
Debt-based driver’s license suspensions are a poverty penalty that punish people solely because they are poor. This is two-tiered justice system, where rich and poor people with otherwise identical records receive different punishments solely because of their ability to pay court debt.
Debt-based driver’s license suspensions force the working poor into an impossible position: choose to drive illegally (and risk incarceration and more fines) in order to get to work or meet personal/family needs, or choose not to drive and lose needed income and access to education and other services.
This penalty has no public safety justification as it is not connected to a driving related offense. Instead, it unnecessarily places hurdles in front of people seeking to support themselves and their family. This practice also harms employers, who lose access to a sufficient workforce when their employees cannot get to work.