Drivers challenge license suspensions for unpaid court debt

Legal Compliance

It can start with a couple of traffic tickets. Unable to pay the tickets right away, a driver becomes saddled with late fees, fines and court costs. Soon, the driver may be taken off the road indefinitely.

More than 40 states allow the suspension of driver’s licenses for people with unpaid criminal or traffic court debt.

But now, advocates across the country are pushing to change that, arguing that such laws are unconstitutional because they unfairly punish poor people and violate due process by not giving drivers notice or an opportunity to show they cannot afford to pay the fees.

Lawsuits have been filed in at least five states over the past two years.

“It’s not that I don’t want to take care of what I owe. I really wish I could,” said Brianna Morgan, a single mother from Petersburg, Virginia, who hasn’t had a license in three years because she owes more than $400 in traffic fines and court costs from traffic violations and a disorderly conduct citation.

“I really don’t have a way to pay it,” said Morgan, who supports herself and her three children on a monthly disability check.

Advocates had a victory this week in Tennessee, where a federal judge ruled that a law that allows the state to revoke the licenses of low-income people with unpaid court debt from past criminal convictions is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger called the law “powerfully counterproductive” and ordered Tennessee to stop revoking licenses and to reinstate the licenses of people who had theirs revoked due solely to nonpayment of court fees.

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Grounds for Divorce in Ohio - Sylkatis Law, LLC

A divorce in Ohio is filed when there is typically “fault” by one of the parties and party not at “fault” seeks to end the marriage. A court in Ohio may grant a divorce for the following reasons:
• Willful absence of the adverse party for one year
• Adultery
• Extreme cruelty
• Fraudulent contract
• Any gross neglect of duty
• Habitual drunkenness
• Imprisonment in a correctional institution at the time of filing the complaint
• Procurement of a divorce outside this state by the other party

Additionally, there are two “no-fault” basis for which a court may grant a divorce:
• When the parties have, without interruption for one year, lived separate and apart without cohabitation
• Incompatibility, unless denied by either party

However, whether or not the the court grants the divorce for “fault” or not, in Ohio the party not at “fault” will not get a bigger slice of the marital property.