Judge Norman Moon Grants Preliminary Injunction Against Virginia DMV

federal judge prevents Virginia dmv from enforcing license suspension law for not paying fines and costs

Will the Virginia legislature take action and amend the law that requires automatic suspension of the license for failing to pay fines and costs? On Friday, Federal Judge Norman Moon granted a preliminary injunction against the Virginia DMV. The preliminary injunction requires the Virginia DMV to stop enforcing its policy on automatic license suspensions for failing to pay court fines and costs.

Gov. Ralph Northam came out this week and decried the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles policy. Gov. Northam’s proposed budget would compensate for the lost reinstatement fees that are currently funding trauma centers. There has been a wave of public enmity towards the automatic suspension of licenses for non payment of court fines and costs over the last few years. Federal judges have weighed in on Virginia’s law before, and said that courts must allow people to go on a payment plan. So far, the Virginia legislature has been silent and has not repealed the law requiring a license suspension for failing to pay fines and costs.

Virginia Legislature to Repeal Law Requiring Automatic License Suspensions

If Judge Moon’s ruling stands, then the Virginia legislature will have to take action soon and repeal the law. Judge Moon ruled that Virginia’s law likely violates Constitutional due process. The Virginia legislature will need to amend the law, or likely have the law overturned in federal court. There is bipartisan agreement on both sides of the aisle that Virginia’s law perpetuates the cycle of poverty. The Virginia legislature should act soon to repeal this law and stop the DMV from suspending licenses for non-payment of fines and costs.

Attorney General Mark Herring’s office defended the Virginia DMV in the lawsuit. However, according to spokesman Michael Kelly, “As a policy matter, Attorney General Herring still supports Governor Northam’s efforts to end this practice legislatively and hopes the General Assembly will support the governor’s efforts.”

If Both Sides Work Together, Virginia Legislation Will be Passed Repealing the Virginia License Suspension Law

The writing seems to be on the wall here. A federal judge ruled that the plaintiffs were likely to win their arguments that Virginia’s license suspension law is not Constitutional. As such, Judge Moon granted an injunction against the Virginia DMV. If Attorney General Mark Herring does not fight the injunction, then the injunction will stand. Either way, the Virginia legislature should take action soon to repeal this law.

Many People End Up Getting a License Suspension for Traffic Related Matters

The way Virginia law is currently written, people convicted of reckless driving, speeding, or other traffic related matters must pay their fine and costs within 30 days or face an automatic license suspension. Courts must allow continuances and payment plans to pay, but if someone doesn’t enter a payment plan then there is an automatic suspension of the license if the fine and costs are not paid within 30 days. In addition, this can hurt out of state drivers in particular. Many courts require people to sign up for the payment plan IN PERSON. Well, if you live out of state then this can present many problems. The Virginia legislature should act fast to correct this issue. At Leavitt & Martin, we specialize in traffic matters. Call us today if your license has been suspended under this law.




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