A new law will allow people who have had their driver's license suspended due to non-payment to be able to create a payment plan to have it reinstated.
The measure, approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo on New Year's eve, was backed by advocacy groups and lawmakers who pointed to the 1.7 million driver's license suspensions between January 2016 and April 2018 for people who were not able to pay their fines or attend traffic hearings.
The amended version of the Driver's License Suspension Reform Act will allow a person to enroll in a payment plan in order to reinstate their license. The payment plan must be either 2% of a person's monthly income or $25 a month, whichever is greater.
“This new state law will make a positive impact in the lives of thousands and thousands of New Yorkers who have had their driving privileges suspended solely for inability to pay,” Sen. Tim Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat, said. “This is a huge win that decriminalizes poverty and will give hope and opportunity to drivers across New York State."
Under the amended legislation, individuals who fail to appear in traffic court hearings, will not have their driver's license reinstated. However, people will now be issued two notifications prior to a license suspension.
“Up until now, thousands of New Yorkers have had their licenses suspended every year just because they couldn't afford to pay a fine," Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union said. "The Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act is an important step toward reducing the dangerous impacts of racist policing and wealth inequality, and we are pleased to see it become law. Driver’s license suspensions should be used for the limited purpose of keeping unsafe drivers off of the road, not as a debt-collection mechanism.”
The law will also reinstate the licenses of people who currently have a suspended license due to non-payment of traffic fines.