June 30, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
New York drivers no longer need to worry about having their licenses suspended due to unpaid tickets.
The Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act took effect Tuesday, with all suspensions related to unpaid traffic and parking fines being lifted automatically.
The new law will end license suspensions due to non-payment of traffic fines, while making affordable payment plans available.
Drivers who have been hit with fines can enter into a payment plan of $25 a month or 2 percent of their net monthly income, whichever is greater. The plan is also available to drivers whose licenses were suspended.
“The Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act will finally begin the first step of addressing the disproportionately harsh outcomes that occur when a driver without financial means accumulates too much traffic debt,” said Assemblymember Pamela Hunter of Syracuse, the bill’s Assembly sponsor.
“Suspending a license for failure to pay a fine does nothing but punish low-income families that are disproportionately people of color. An income-based payment plan is fair and ensures everyone has an opportunity to resolve their license issues.”
The Department of Motor Vehicles will be sending written notices to those who have had their licenses suspended due to unpaid fines—and to inform them that they can enter into a payment plan.
The bill also addresses those whose licenses were suspended for failing to appear in court. Those people can go to the DMV or traffic court and state that they are there to clear their suspension and enter into a payment plan.
Licenses can still be suspended for other reasons, including driving under the influence, not having liability insurance or failure to pay child support.
The bill was introduced in 2019 after nearly 1.7 million driver’s licenses were suspended in New York between January 2016 and April 2018 due to non-payment and non-appearances, according to the Fines and Fees Justice Center.
The bill passed the State Assembly and Senate in July of 2020 before being signed in to law last December by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The legislation was co-sponsored by a number of Queens elected officials, including David Weprin and Catalina Cruz in the Assembly, and Jessica Ramos, Mike Gianaris and John Liu in the Senate.