6 Things To Know Right Now
about the recent Virginia budget amendment
to freeze driver’s license suspensions for unpaid court debt:
1. The budget amendment should lift current driver’s license suspensions for unpaid or delinquent court debt no later than July 1, 2019, and will prevent future such suspensions beginning July 1, 2019 and lasting until July 1, 2020. Even so, we don’t yet know exactly how or when these suspended licenses will be officially reinstated—stay tuned for more information from us.
2. Though it lifts current court debt-related driver’s license suspensions and prevents future such suspensions for the next budget year, the amendment does not cancel court debt owed.
You will still be required to pay your court debt, & the court could still pursue collections against you with mechanisms that include, among others: wage garnishment, tax intercept, debt collector intervention, and, possibly, issuing a kind of warrant called a “show cause” that will require you to appear in court to answer for the debt, which could result in some jail time or additional debt if the court finds that you could pay but simply did not do so.
In some cases, payment of your court debt may be a part of probation requirements or to maintain a suspended jail sentence term—please consult your attorney in these matters for advice.
3. The budget amendment only lifts/prevents license suspensions that are solely due to unpaid court debt. This does not include, for example, license suspensions given for unpaid child support. It does not include suspensions directly resulting from convictions for reckless driving, DUI, or simple possession. However, if you were convicted for these or other criminal or traffic convictions, and got court debt that you couldn’t pay, it would include a license suspension based solely on any unpaid court debt tied to those convictions.
4. It’s possible to have more than one kind of driver’s license suspension at the same time. If you have a license suspension for an offense like a DUI, reckless driving, etc., AND a license suspension for unpaid court debt, the budget amendment should still cause the unpaid court debt suspension to be lifted. This means, however, that the other suspension(s) will still be in effect. Again, the best way to keep track of this is to obtain your DMV compliance report as soon after July 1, 2019 as you can.
5. The Virginia state budget that contains this budget language goes into effect July 1, 2019, but we don’t yet know exactly when eligible driver’s licenses will be officially reinstated. If you drive, please drive with caution—our best advice is to seek your DMV compliance report until it shows your suspensions have been lifted and your license has been reinstated. Then, you may want to carry the compliance report with you if you drive, just as a precaution.
6. If your driver’s license was suspended solely for unpaid court debt, you should not be charged the $145+ license reinstatement fee by the DMV for that reinstatement. If you have another type of license suspension, or if you need to obtain a new driver’s license or renew an expired one, the DMV may charge you fees related to either reinstating your license once the time period for your other suspension has expired, or fees associated with renewing or first obtaining a license. If your only license suspension is for unpaid court debt, however, and you would otherwise have a current, valid license, you should not be charged a fee.
If you have questions about your driver’s license suspension, you can call our Drive Down The Debt hotline to leave us a message—we will get back to you: (434) 422-5085
For more information about our work on these issues, please visit our website at http://www.justice4all.org/drive.