NEW YORK (WKBW) — The New York State Senate and Assembly have passed a bill to end the suspension of driver's licenses based on the failure to pay traffic ticket fines or fees. The legislation also creates a payment plan system for drivers.
The bill must be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to become law.
Sponsored by Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) in the Senate, and by Assemblymember Pamela Hunter (D-Syracuse) in the Assembly, the bill is part of a national push to address policies that unfairly impact low-income and minority communities.
“Through this bill, we’re not only lifting the suspensions tied to unpaid traffic fines, but we’re creating a system for New Yorkers to pay these fees efficiently and without fear of losing a job, missing a rent payment, or forfeiting an education due to personal and financial challenges,” said Kennedy. “This measure has already been enacted in several states and is currently being considered in many others. New York needs to catch up. I’m pleased to see this reform pass the legislature swiftly upon our return to Albany, and I urge the Governor to sign this important reform into law immediately. ”
Citing data from the Driven by Justice Coalition, officials say during a recent 28-month period New York issued over 1.6 million driver’s license suspensions related to traffic debt and license suspension rates in New York are nearly nine times higher in the ten poorest communities compared to the ten wealthiest.
“As the representative of one of the most impoverished communities of color in the country, I am proud to sponsor this legislation in the Assembly,” said Hunter. “Criminalizing poverty through license suspension further destabilizes vulnerable New Yorkers and undermines their ability to pay. Eliminating debt based license suspensions and implementing a payment plan will help New Yorkers during this difficult time while also generating more revenue for the state through these income based plans.”