PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona will stop suspending driver’s licenses solely because someone doesn’t pay a fine, under legislation Gov. Doug Ducey signed Wednesday.
The bill comes amid growing awareness of the ways that low-level traffic fines can balloon into serious debts, life barriers or even criminal penalties for people with low-incomes.
Drivers are still on the hook for their traffic fines and face other forms of collection. But SB1551 gives judges authority to lower traffic fines for people who show they can’t afford them, excluding drunken driving penalties.
"People need to drive to places like medical appointments, school and work to earn a living," Ducey said in a statement. ’There’s no sense in getting in the way of that when they can’t afford the fine, especially when there are other steps the courts can take to collect fees."
There are currently 31,000 Arizona driver’s licenses suspended solely for failure to pay, according to Ducey’s office. Those licenses will be restored.
"Working families and Arizonans who are struggling financially need support — not barriers," Sen. Paul Boyer, a Glendale Republican who sponsored the measure, said in a statement released by Ducey’s office.