Lawsuit Says Michigan Traffic Fine Laws Discriminate Against Poor

by | Aug 9, 2017 | Car Accidents | 0 comments

A class-action lawsuit was recently filed against the Michigan Secretary of State by Equal Justice Under Law, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C. The group claims that the state’s laws on traffic fines, particularly those requiring the suspension of driver’s licenses for unpaid fines, unfairly discriminate against Michigan’s poorest residents.

Discriminated Plaintiffs

One of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Detroit resident Adrian Fowler, who had several unpaid traffic fines in her home state of Georgia before moving to Michigan. As she didn’t have the money to pay these fines, she was unable to renew her driver’s license. This resulted in the 31-year-old getting an additional fine for driving on a suspended license when she was stopped for speeding in Ferndale while taking her sick child to the emergency room. Fowler’s lawyers are alleging that having her license suspended is keeping her trapped in a cycle of poverty. She now owes over $2,100 in fines and penalties, but isn’t able to obtain a better job that would give her the chance to pay them off as she doesn’t have a valid driver’s license.

Another named plaintiff in the lawsuit is Kitia Harris, a Detroit resident receiving disability benefits. Her license was suspended after she couldn’t afford to pay a fine for “impeding traffic” within the 42-day requirement under state law. According to the lawsuit, not having the ability to drive is impeding her ability to travel to important medical appointments.

Inside Michigan Traffic Law

Under current Michigan traffic laws, motorists with unpaid fines have their licenses suspended “until the matter is resolved.” An administrative fee of $45 is assessed for the suspension to be lifted. Those who were found guilty of driving while their license was suspended need to pay an additional fee of $125 before the state will lift their driving suspension.

The practice of suspending licenses for unpaid traffic violations has been described by proponents as a way to cut down on the number of motorists who evade or delay paying fines. But Equal Justice Under Law calls the strategy counterproductive. They’ve issued a press release stating that Michigan residents whose licenses have been suspended solely because they have outstanding fines face a variety of hardships, such as being unable to drive their children to school, traveling to medical appointments or having difficulty securing gainful employment.

Your civil rights are most important and deserve to be protected. Michigan Legal Center recognizes the many systematic injustices in place and have attorneys ready and willing to serve as your legal ally. Contact us today for a free consultation with a Michigan civil rights attorney.

Christopher Trainor and Associates Featured on WXYZ

Recently Christopher Trainor and Associates was featured on WXYZ 7 Action News in Detroit regarding a client's case against the Detroit Police Department in which the client was wrongly arrested and held in jail. The full article and can be found on the WXYZ website.

St Joseph, MI – Injuries Result from Wreck on I-94 near Martin Luther King Dr

St Joseph, MI (March 25, 2022) - A major car crash happened on an interstate in St Joseph on the afternoon of March 20. At approximately 5:10 p.m., an unspecified number of vehicles collided on Interstate 94. Reports show the accident happened on I-94 near Martin...

Zeeland, MI – Auto Accident on Fairview Rd at Washington Ave Ends in Injuries

Zeeland, MI (March 25, 2022) - An auto accident happened on the morning of March 25 in Zeeland that resulted in injuries. The wreck occurred shortly after 8:00 a.m., according to reports.  Sources say the collision took place on Fairview Road near Washington...

Paw Paw, MI – Major Car Crash on M-43 between 37th & 40th St

Paw Paw, MI (March 25, 2022) - A motor vehicle accident occurred in Paw Paw on the morning of March 23 that required an emergency response. The incident was reported to authorities in the area at around 12:21 p.m. Various responders were observed at the scene of the...

Romulus, MI – Motor Vehicle Collision Causes Injuries on I-94 near Vining Rd

Romulus, MI (March 25, 2022) - At least one person was hurt in a crash reported in Romulus on March 25. At approximately 12:55 p.m., police were dispatched to the scene of the wreck located on Interstate 94.  Responders including paramedics, fire crews, and...

Holland, MI – Injury Accident on Waverly Rd at 48th St Requires EMT Dispatch

Holland, MI (March 25, 2022) - On the morning of March 25, at approximately 6:55 a.m., a car accident in Holland required an emergency dispatch.  Reports indicate that a vehicle collided with a pole near 48th Street on Waverly Road.  To assist the injured...

Jackson, MI – Serious Car Accident on M-106 near Deweese Rd and Hawkins Rd

Jackson, MI (March 25, 2022) - Police officers in Jackson were dispatched to the scene of a major car crash on Friday, March 25. According to local officials, the collision happened at approximately 4:00 p.m. on M-106. While emergency personnel rendered aid to those...

Detroit, MI – Police Dispatched to Crash Scene on I-96 near Davison St

Detroit, MI (March 25, 2022) - On March 25, at least one person was injured in a car accident in Detroit. The wreck was reported to officials in the area at approximately 10:50 p.m. According to information from reports, the accident occurred on I-96 near Davison...

Wyoming, MI – Major Accident on 28th St near Clyde Park Ave

Wyoming, MI (March 24, 2022) - Highway patrol officers and first responders were called to the scene of a vehicle collision on March 24 on 28th Street in Wyoming. Reports show that an unspecified number of vehicles collided in the area, resulting in the injury of at...

St Clair, MI – Siblings Killed in Wreck on Kinney Rd near Burt Rd

St Clair, MI (March 24, 2022) - A brother and sister were killed in a two-car crash on Thursday, March 24 in Riley Township. The incident was reported north of Interstate 69 on Kinney Road near Burt Road.  Three people were also hospitalized with injuries,...