Under current New York state law, a driver could lose his or her license for failing to pay the fees associated with traffic or parking tickets.
"The impact of suspending licenses, what it does is it criminalizes poverty," Jalonda Hill of the Western New York Law Center said.
A study from the Driven by Justice Coalition shows this practice disproportionately affects the state's poorest communities and those with the largest percentage of people of color.
"The disparities in issuing driver's license suspensions is in and of itself a cause for serious concern not only in our community but across the state and that is imperative that we address it with this legislation," state Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, said.
Kennedy is sponsoring a bill that would repeal the statute allowing for the suspension of licenses based on the failure to pay fees.
"It creates a payment plan system for drivers which would be administered by judicial discretion on a case-by-case basis," he said.
The bill passed the state Senate during the last legislative session but never reached the floor of the Assembly. Kennedy, the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, is vowing to make it a priority when the Legislature reconvenes.
Proponents on Tuesday also launched a campaign to end the practice across the country.
"This measure's already been enacted in many other states across this nation and it's being considered by many more," Kennedy said. "New York state needs to catch up. It is time New York state leads on this initiative nationwide, not follows."
The proposal does not have universal support.
“I opposed this legislation earlier this year because it removes a primary incentive to follow the law," state Senator Pat Gallivan, R-Elma, said. "However, I would support separate legislation to permit payment plans for imposed fines.”
Kennedy said the bill isn't removing any obligation to pay a fine or a fee.
"It's simply making it more accessible for drivers to pay down any incurred debt responsibly and realistically," he said.
The City of Buffalo generates millions in revenue annually from traffic and parking fines, but Mayor Byron Brown said he supports Kennedy's plan.
"We think this is good common sense legislation," he said. "It should not affect revenues in a negative way. In fact, according to the research that I've read, it could cause revenue to go up."
Drivers can still have their licenses suspended for failing to obey traffic laws.