According to statistics provided by The Tennessean, more than 146,200 drivers have lost their license simply because they couldn’t afford to pay court costs. A ruling from U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger changes that.
The criminal justice system relies heavily on court costs and administrative fees, but for many people those costs are a significant burden. Someone accused of even a petty crime may still face thousands of dollars of court costs, which only increase over time due to the inability to pay those costs.
In Tennessee, a failure to pay fines and costs has meant that the state can revoke your driver’s license. Obviously, this threw people into a vicious cycle: a person who couldn’t pay costs lost their license, which meant they couldn’t get to work, which meant more costs were incurred, and so on – a cycle of debt that sent many people who were already hurting financially into even more dire straits.