Your Connection To Jazz, Blues and NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Judge orders WA to stop suspending driver's licenses for unpaid tickets

Ryan Norris, a license service representative at the Washington state Department of Licensing office in Lacey, holds a sample copy of a Washington driver's license on June 22, 2018.
Ted S. Warren
/
The Associated Press file
Ryan Norris, a license service representative at the Washington state Department of Licensing office in Lacey, holds a sample copy of a Washington driver's license on June 22, 2018.

A judge has ordered Washington state’s Department of Licensing to stop suspending licenses due to unpaid moving violations, such as speeding tickets, starting on June 8. 

 

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson also ordered the Department of Licensing to reinstate the licenses of an estimated 100,000 drivers.

 

Nathan Olson, director of communications for the department, said the agency planned to follow the judge's order until a bill, which allows drivers to sign up for a payment plan to pay for moving violations, takes effect.

 

Last month, Wilson ruled that Washington state’s practice of suspending licenses because of unpaid traffic fines is unconstitutional. The judge said the Department of Licensing can only suspend licenses after it develops a method for evaluating whether people have the ability to pay for the tickets. 

 

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed last year by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. 

 

Other states, including Oregon, have already passed laws that prevent the suspension of licenses due to unpaid fines.

 

This story was updated to include comment from Washington state's Department of Licensing.

 

Related Content