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Secretary of the State banned from suspending driver's license due to unpaid traffic violations

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Alex Roosso
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A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against the Michigan Secretary of State barring them from suspending driver's licenses for unpaid traffic violations.

In court filings, Federal Judge Linda Parker said she issued a preliminary injunction against the state because they likely violated procedural due process by not allowing drivers to set up payment plans, or even holding hearings to ensure drivers could pay.

Gilda Jacobs is the CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. She said license suspensions disproportionately impact low-income drivers.

“Michigan is one of the five harshest states in the United States for pretty harsh treatment. When you suspend somebody's driver's license you take away their ability to go to work and then pay for their penalties.”

Jacobs said the state needs to work with drivers to recoup fines - or find alternative punishments.

“We put people at risk for losing their jobs, for providing for their families. We don’t want to create our own debtor's prisons if you will by having a very harsh penalty.”

Jacobs said one hundred thousand Michigan residents currently have their licenses suspended for not being able to pay traffic violations.

In a written statement a spokesperson for the Michigan Secretary of State said quote “We believe that Michigan’s long-standing traffic safety laws are equally applied to all drivers.” According to the spokesperson, the department will appeal the judge’s order.

A court date for the case has not yet been set.

The full statement from the Michigan Secretary of State is below.

We have received the opinion and order for the preliminary injunction.

We are reviewing the judge’s opinion and look forward to the opportunity to fully present the state’s position.

We believe that Michigan’s long-standing traffic safety laws are equally applied to all drivers.

That’s really all we’re able to say at this point.