Driver’s License Update

INFORMATION FOR PEOPLE WITH DRIVER’S LICENSES THAT ARE OR MAY BECOME SUSPENDED DUE TO VIRGINIA CRIMINAL/TRAFFIC COURT DEBT

Legal Aid Justice Center is working on a court case (Stinnie v. Holcomb) that challenges court debt driver’s license suspension in Virginia. We believe Virginia’s law is unconstitutional.

In December 2018, the court granted a preliminary injunction. This is an order that a court makes while the case continues. The court said that it is “likely that Plaintiffs will succeed in establishing that [the suspension law] violates procedural due process.” (Memorandum Opinion, 12/21/18, at p. 23)Virginia’s law is probably unconstitutional. The court ordered Virginia DMV to remove those suspensions from the licenses of the five named plaintiffs in Stinnie, and not to re-suspend their licenses for unpaid court debt.

Currently, the preliminary injunction covers only the five named plaintiffs. We are asking the court to make the case into a class action. We are also asking the court to extend the preliminary injunction, so that Virginia DMV would not put new court debt suspensions on driver’s licenses. If granted, however, the class-wide preliminary injunction would not remove court debt suspensions that are already on people’s driver’s licenses.

People who have driver’s licenses that are, or may become, suspended for court debt do not need to sign up or “opt in” to the case. If the court agrees with us that the case should be a class action, people will automatically be covered by whatever the court decides. While the proposed class-wide preliminary injunction would not remove suspensions that already are on people’s driver’s licenses, we are asking that such suspensions be removed as one of the remedies in the case when it goes to trial.

In the meantime, people who have court debt driver’s license suspensions may wish to contact the court(s) to which they owe such debt. Recent changes to Virginia law require courts to offer better payment plans than in the past. Under current law, if a person gets on a payment plan, they may be able to remove suspensions for that court debt from their driver’s license.

If you have further questions, please call (434) 422-5085.