Most people in New Jersey who have had their driver’s licenses suspended aren’t drunk drivers, speeders or people who were caught texting behind the wheel. In fact, a study from 2020 found that 90% of driver’s license suspensions weren’t instigated by traffic violations.
People that lose their driving privileges typically didn’t get in trouble because of minor traffic violations. Instead, things like parking in a no-parking zone or failing to feed the meter on time are what lead to a driver’s license suspension. Right now, a driver that has at least five unpaid parking tickets or fails to appear in court for outstanding parking tickets can have their driving privileges taken away.
Measure A1376 could end driver’s license suspension for parking tickets
Legislators in New Jersey have reintroduced a bill that would end driver’s license suspensions related to parking tickets. If the bill is passed, it will change the punishment for multiple unpaid parking tickets from driver’s license suspension to vehicle registration suspension.
Similar bills have recently passed in other states including Illinois and New York. Proponents of this type of criminal justice reform say that taking away driving privileges for unpaid parking tickets contributes to a cycle of poverty. People with unpaid parking ticket debt are unable to get to work and earn the money they need to pay off their debt.
Low income neighborhoods disproportionately affected
A study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that people in low-income neighborhoods are seven times more likely to have suspended driver’s licenses than people in high-income neighborhoods. If traffic tickets for non-moving violations are paid off, a person can have their suspended driver’s license reinstated. However, people who are already experiencing poverty simply don’t have the money in many cases.