Lansing Mayor Andy Schor wants to use federal coronavirus funding to forgive some debt owed by city residents charged with driving with suspended licenses
Hundreds of people owe fees to Lansing’s district court for driving with a suspended license. Now, the city could use federal relief money to forgive some of that debt.
Lansing has been using grant money to study how fines and fees further inequality. Katie Bollman is a Michigan State University Ph.D. candidate who did research for the city as part of that program. She notes temporarily losing your license after failing to pay fees on previous traffic charges can have a spiraling effect.
“You can't, you know, take your kids to childcare, you can't go to work. And if you can't drive to work, then how are you supposed to get the money to then pay back this this debt that you owe so that you can get your driver's license unsuspended?”
A proposal from Mayor Andy Schor would use about one hundred thousand dollars from Lansing’s allocation of the American Rescue Plan Act to pay outstanding debts owed since 2014 to Lansing’s 54A District Court for driving with a suspended license.
If funding is approved, officials anticipate limiting the fee forgiveness to Lansing residents. People who’ve been charged with driving under the influence or who have outstanding warrants for violent crimes would be excluded.