Sunday, April 21
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Settlement in Lawsuit Over Revocation of Licenses for Not Paying Traffic / Court Debts

ASHEBORO N.C. – The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NC DOT) which operates the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), has announced there has been a settlement in the class-action lawsuit filed back in May of 2018 by several groups including the ACLU on behalf of drivers who lost their licenses because they didn’t pay fines.

Over the next 60 days the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NC DMV) will be contacting more than 185,000 drivers whose licenses were revoked for their failure to pay fines and other court costs. A special notice will inform drivers about their ability under North Carolina General Statute § 20-24.1 to have the NCDMV lift those revocations if the sentencing court finds their failure to pay was not willful and was instead due to their inability to afford the amount due.

A driver can show and inability to pay and therefore have their license restored by filing a motion for relief from fines and fees. The NC Administrative Office of the Courts has created Form AOC-CR-415, a template that can be used to file the motion for relief. (For the next six-months the NC DMV will mail a copy of this template motion to drivers upon request.)

The NCDMV has also made changes to the notice sent to drivers facing future license revocations for failure to pay court debt which includes information about NC § 20-24.1 and their ability to prevent revocation of their license by filing a motion for relief. Previously, the NC DMV revocation notice indicated that full payment of the amount of fines, penalties and court costs due was the only option to prevent an indefinite driver’s license suspension.

These changes are all apart of a settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed in May 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina in Greensboro by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The settlement agreement and the notices from this case will be posted on the NCDMV’s website (www.ncdot.gov/dmv), and at local NC DMV offices.

Also part of the settlement, the NC DMV has agreed to help fund a North Carolina legal advocacy organization’s creation, monitoring, and administration of a help and resources website, where the public can access information on how to prevent or remove a license suspension for non-payment from their record, as well as pro bono resources that may be able to provide representation to the public to help prevent or remove suspensions for non-payment from their record. The notices will reference the website for 18 months. Individuals with questions about the settlement or their options for lifting existing driver’s license revocation orders or preventing a pending revocation order from becoming effective, can visit that site at www.resolvetrafficdebtNC.org.