注:本案被告已变更. 最初是以约翰逊诉. Jessup.
美国公民自由联盟(ACLU), 北卡罗来纳州的美国公民自由联盟, 南方贫困法律中心(SPLC), and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice are suing the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for revoking driver’s licenses of people who cannot afford traffic tickets.
This system funnels people unable to pay traffic tickets, 尤其是有色人种, 进入债务周期, 交通违规, and poverty in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s promises of due process and equal protection under the law.
More than 15 percent of North Carolina residents live in poverty. And drivers’ licenses are crucial to people’s ability to secure and maintain employment, 开车送孩子上学, 并获得其他基本需求. 然而,, North Carolina routinely subjects impoverished people to indefinite revocation of their driver’s licenses for no reason other than nonpayment of fines and costs imposed for traffic offenses without ensuring ability to pay. This practice disproportionately harms people of color due to longstanding racial and ethnic gaps in poverty and wealth.
North Carolina statute requires the automatic revocation of licenses for nonpayment of a traffic ticket 40 days after a court judgment. But the law does not require a hearing before revocation to ensure that a person punished under the statute is actually able to pay. Nor does the DMV ensure that people are provided an ability-to-pay hearing or even notice of the right to a DMV hearing on their ability to pay before their licenses are indefinitely revoked.
原告Seti约翰逊, 三个孩子的黑人父亲, had to choose between paying traffic fines and supporting his children. After a routine traffic stop last summer in Cabarrus County, he was surprised to learn that his license had been revoked for unpaid traffic tickets. He was forced to use his rent money to pay off the more than $700 he owed to reinstate his license.
约翰逊的驾照被恢复了, but not before he received a separate traffic ticket for driving with a revoked license. The charge was later reduced, and the court ordered him to pay a $100 fine and $208 in court costs. 他能付100美元, 但不能支付更多, and was assessed an additional $20 fee because he couldn’t pay in full that day. Without a job, he struggled to pay the remaining amount. The fees were due on May 22, and Johnson fears that he will lose his license again.
The federal lawsuit challenges the DMV’s revocation of driver’s licenses without first providing proper notice and hearings to ensure that only the licenses of people who have not paid traffic fines and costs, 但有能力这样做, 是否会被吊销许可证. U.S. Supreme 法院 precedent makes it clear that a person’s inability to pay must be considered before they are punished for nonpayment of a court fine.
Plaintiffs in the case seek a court order declaring that North Carolina’s law and the DMV’s practice of revoking driver’s licenses are unconstitutional. They also seek an injunction to prevent the DMV from revoking licenses for nonpayment without first providing hearings to determine whether motorists willfully did not pay and without sufficient notice of options other than payment to prevent license revocation for those who cannot afford to pay. The suit further requests an injunction that would require the DMV to restore any licenses that were revoked solely for nonpayment.
这起诉讼在美国提起.S. 地方法院 for the 北卡罗来纳中部地区.
图为原告塞蒂·约翰逊. 图片来源:Rick Hovis.