CHALLENGING TENNESSEE'S REVOCATION OF DRIVER'S LICENSES FOR UNPAID COURT DEBT
In January 2017, Civil Rights Corps filed a statewide class action lawsuit against the Governor of Tennessee and other state officials challenging Tennessee's law that strips people of their ability to drive if they cannot pay fines, fees, and costs from criminal cases. As of January 2017, the law had stripped more than 146,000 people in Tennessee of their licenses since 2012. They cannot get to work, go to church, see their families, go to school, get groceries, or participate in many of the important aspects that make daily life meaningful in a state that lacks adequate public transportation. Most perversely, they cannot earn the money that they need to pay off their debts to get their license back. We filed this lawsuit with National Center for Law and Economic Justice, Just City, and Baker Donelson as our partners.
In the video below, Jim Thomas, one of our named plaintiffs, describes the burdens not having a license can have on low-income people.
- "Being Poor Can Mean Losing a Driver's License. Not Any More in Tennnessee." The New York Times, 7/4/18
- "Judge: Tennessee can't revoke driver's licenses from people who can't pay court costs" Tennessean, 7/3/18