Tennessee Driver’s Licenses Revoked Due to Unpaid Fines, Fees Can Now Be Reinstated

A federal judge ruled in October that the State of Tennessee can no longer revoke driver’s licenses due to non-payment of traffic fines. This builds on a ruling from July 2017 that ordered the state to stop suspending driver’s licenses due to unpaid court costs. Both orders also call for the reinstatement of driver’s licenses that have been revoked because of unpaid traffic fines and court costs. Neither automatically reinstate revoked licenses, instead, people must apply for it.

The injunctions are in response to class action lawsuits filed by Just City of Memphis, the law firm Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, Civil Rights Corp and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. The State of Tennessee is currently appealing the July order on court costs, but is still complying with the preliminary injunction to stop revocation and to reinstate licenses revoked because of unpaid court debt. Additionally, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office announced in October that it has stopped prosecuting cases involving drivers whose licenses are revoked for owing fines.

 

GET YOUR LICENSE REINSTATED

There are several ways to determine if you are eligible*

  • Call 866-903-7357. This number is for a state reinstatement center. It’s their job to help you determine if you’re eligible to have your driver’s license reinstated, and if you are, help you get it back. Someone should answer calls to that number Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CST. The number will be busy, so keep calling if you can’t get through to someone immediately.
  • Visit this website: dl.safety.tn.gov. You’ll need to fill out a short form, so have your Social Security number and driver’s license number (if you know it) handy. The website will help you determine if you’re eligible for reinstatement.
  • Go to an in-person reinstatement center. A full list is available online at the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s website.

*Information provided by The Tennessean

 

LEARN MORE

Tennessee can’t revoke driver licenses of people who can’t pay traffic fines, judge says via The Tennessean

Shelby County DA’s office stops prosecuting many cases of driving with a revoked license via The Commercial Appeal

Judge: Tennessee can’t revoke driver’s licenses from people who can’t pay court costs via The Tennessean

Being Poor Can Mean Losing a Driver’s License. Not Anymore in Tennessee via The New York Times

 

 

 

Gideon’s Promise Founder: Public Defenders Are Key To Equal Justice

Jon Rapping, Gideon’s Promise Founder

The driver for equal justice is the assumption that some people are less than others. Public Defenders represent 80% of people in the criminal justice system. We can talk about 2.3 million incarcerated, most of them are poor, the majority of them people of color. We can talk about how we literally lock people up pre-trial and presumed innocent on bail that they can’t afford. All of those are problems… but they are symptoms.

The root problem is that we have embraced the narrative that some people are ‘others.’ Some people are less than human. When you look at the Black Lives Matter movement, doesn’t that name just say, ‘See us as people.’ It’s really no different than 50 years ago when the sanitation workers in Memphis were marching with signs that say ‘I am a man.’  It’s simply saying, ‘See me as a human being.’

If you believe, as I do, that the driver behind unequal justice is that we have accepted a narrative that some people are less than human, and that the only way we can change our assumptions is to hear their voices and hear their stories, and recognize their humanity – if you agree with that, as I do, then you recognize that in the criminal justice system, the public defenders who speak for 80% of the people are the vehicle through which, those voices are heard, those stories are told, that humanity is realized. Only then will we have will to truly transform the system and not just tweak it around the edges.”

– Jon Rapping, Founder of Gideon’s Promise

We are proud to be one of the largest Gideon’s Promise offices in the country with more than a quarter of our office versed in this immersive training program.

You can listen to the entire interview on the Berkeleyside Podcast  here.

 

Justice Advocates Warn Community About Proposed Shelby County Juvenile Assessment Center

We originally published this post in October of 2017 when the concept of the Juvenile Assessment Center for Memphis was rolled out. The Commercial Appeal ran a series of pieces — both for and against – JACs. We are re-publishing this piece as the legislation that authorizes a pilot JAC in Shelby County (HB2428/SB2624 ) is currently being debated by the Tennessee General Assembly.

 

“There has been no evidence that JACs have a positive impact on DMC (Disproportionate Minority Contact)  and, in fact, there is concern they could make it worse. If net widening does occur, it will sweep in more youth from the inner-city than the suburbs.”

– Bill Powell, settlement agreement coordinator for the U.S. Justice Department’s Memorandum of Agreement with Shelby County Juvenile Court from 2012 until he resigned in June. Powell served three mayors as the county’s criminal justice coordinator.

 

The Commercial Appeal looked at what Memphis justice advocates had to say about the proposal to create what are commonly called Juvenile Assessment Centers (JAC) in Shelby County. The previous week, the Commercial Appeal published pieces from those in support of JACs. The idea is to intervene with resources in the lives of young people who get into trouble, so that they do not get entangled in the criminal justice system. If developed, the facility will be called a Youth Assessment and Resource Center or (YARC).

But a major concern is that this center could result in “net widening” and actually bring more young people of color into an already broken system.

Click this story link to read Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner’s perspective. Commissioner Turner says anyone serious about addressing poverty and crime in Memphis should be paying close attention to what happens in Juvenile Court and with the proposed JACs

Bill Powell, the original settlement coordinator for the DOJ’s agreement with Shelby County also brought in his experience. Powell resigned this summer after learning the County and Juvenile Court had sent a letter to the DOJ requesting the agreement be terminated. Read his piece here.

Cardell Orrin, director of Stand for Children Memphis believes Shelby County’s proposed JAC should be less law enforcement centered and more youth-centered: Click this link to read his perspective.

Rev. Cheryl Beard, a leader of Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope is concerned that our community is approaching reform of the juvenile justice system as a “checklist” – her thoughts are outlined here.

Prof. Demetria Frank with the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law founded Project M.I., an advocacy group focused on mass incarceration and juvenile justice. Prof. Frank sounds the alarm that because Shelby County Juvenile Court has still not made progress in the equal protection of black children, it is destined to repeat the same culture in the JACs. Read her article here.

Read all the stories from those who are both concerned and supportive of building a JAC in Memphis here.

You can also learn more about the DOJs decision to terminate portions of the Juvenile Court agreement here.

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