PHOENIX — How do you get the Justice Action Network, Americans For Prosperity Arizona, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona to agree on something? Well, one legislator did just that with the introduction of Senate Bill 1551.
On Friday, Governor Doug Ducey signed the legislation into law in order to ensure Arizonans won’t have their drivers license suspended if they can’t afford to pay for traffic fines or fees.
“Taking away an Arizonan’s drivers license when they can’t pay for a traffic ticket just doesn’t make sense,” said Ducey. “People need to drive to places like medical appointments, school and work to earn a living. There’s no sense in getting in the way of that when they can’t afford the fine, especially when there are other steps the courts can take to collect fees. My thanks goes to Senator Paul Boyer for leading on legislation that will protect working families and Arizonans in need.”
After Senate Bill 1551 passed the Arizona House and Senate with unanimous support, Reason published an article stating this is “a move that advocates say will affect roughly 30,000 people in the state.”
Approximately 31,000 driver licenses are currently suspended for failure to pay alone.
The legislation ends the practice of suspending or restricting a person’s drivers license for failure to pay a civil penalty, surcharge, or assessment alone. The bill also reinstates the driving privileges of Arizona drivers whose licenses had been suspended or restricted for failure to pay civil traffic violations alone.
In addition, the legislation gives judges the discretion to waive or mitigate mandatory fines if the penalty would be an undue hardship on the person responsible for the violation. However, judges may not mitigate fines related to driving under the influence. Drivers will continue to be responsible for paying any traffic fines and fees imposed by the courts, and courts may continue to pursue payment through collections programs that do not involve suspending drivers licenses.