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Legal Review: Thousands of Drivers Allowed Back on the Roads in Virginia

By Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew Lindsey of Price Benowitz, LLP

There is good news for suspended drivers in Virginia!

In July of 2019, Governor Ralph Northam announced that residents would no longer have their licenses suspended for unpaid fines and court costs. Since that time, 34,545 Virginians have had their driver’s licenses reinstated. It is one small step that improves the licensing system in the state, and will continue to restore driving freedom to thousands.

Many may not think that having a suspended driver’s license is anything more than an inconvenience. However, the rule that a license could be suspended over unpaid fines is disproportionately unfair and damaging to lower-income individuals. These are the same individuals that desperately need to get to work, but cannot due to the fact that they do not have a valid driver’s license.

This was exactly the inequality Governor Northam was attempting to stop with the new law. He also pointed to the fact that it would benefit Virginia’s economy as a whole. Not only does the new law give people their licenses back, but it also makes it easier for them to resolve their unpaid court balances and administrative fees.

Prior to the new legislation, those wishing to get their driver’s license back were required to pay a $145 reinstatement fee. Now, those that had their licenses suspended due to unpaid fines or court costs are no longer required to pay these expenses. Those that had their licenses suspended for any other reason still need to pay the normal restoration fee after their court balance are resolved.

It is important for anyone who gets their license back to understand that reinstatement does not relieve them of their separate legal responsibilities. Anyone with unpaid fines or court costs still has an obligation to pay those costs.

Now that they can get back to work, the hope is that the new law makes it easier for them to do just that, showing once again that this law is a win all around.

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