How America Made Driving a Criminal Act
Leave it to the authoritarian nature of the United States to turn aspects of driving into a criminal act. Unpaid traffic violations use to be misdemeanors and at most lead to the lost of a person's driving privileges, but many states have turned in into an offense warranting arrest.
The leniency of the law is gone and states are giving the go ahead to police to arrest people whose drivers license have been suspended for unpaid violations. The problem with this is it creates more problems than necessary, for both the driver and the state.
For the driver because there are many people who simply cannot afford to pay their violations right away and may need an installment plan to do so; for the state because it creates a backlog of court cases that take up time and money.
"On a Monday morning last month, the Staten Island courthouse was full of people arrested on charges of driving with a suspended license, which account for nearly 20 percent of prosecutors' entire caseloads in the borough."
Studies have also shown that most people caught up in this debtors trap are people of color, which we all know is guided by the racism of the police departments, courts and prosecutors. All over the country, small and large municipalities are criminalizing people to the extent of jail for small or very old unpaid traffic violations.
They claim it is to uphold the "rule of law" but we all know what that means. Penalize Black folks, and other people of color, to the full extent of the law. And there is no reason to believe it will get any better because the new administration have pushed authoritarian judges onto the bench by the hundreds.
"A divided federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that Michigan may suspend the driver's licenses of poor people with unpaid traffic fines, saying it did not violate their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection."
One judge, "an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, was joined by Circuit Judge Amul Thapar, an appointee of President Donald Trump, and by a 2-1 vote, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Michigan had legitimate interests in promoting compliance with court orders and collecting traffic debt."
This strike against working people is all by design and meant to hurt people of color specifically. The logic behind it makes no sense which testifies to the fact that it is an entitled, self-serving conservative agenda based on racism and discrimination.
Much like the child support laws where the age old question remains, how can someone pay child support when they are behind bars? By taking away people's license you deprive them of the ability to commute to work and make a living. And by jailing them, you add insult to injury by attaching jail time to their record.