Judge: Tennessee Can't Revoke Licenses For Unpaid Court Debt

Jul 3, 2018

Credit Lukasz Stefanski / 123rf Stock Photo

A federal judge says Tennessee officials can't keep revoking driver's licenses from people who can't pay their court debts.

In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger in Nashville wrote that revocations imposed when a driver hasn't paid court debt for a year or more are powerfully counterproductive and deprive constitutional due process and equal protection.

More than 40 states allow similar suspensions.

The ruling says Tennessee revoked 146,211 driver's licenses from July 2012 to June 2016 under state law for failure to pay court debts, with only 10,750 licenses reinstated.

The case was brought on behalf of two indigent men affected by the law.

Trauger ordered state officials to submit a plan within 60 days to stop revoking licenses over court debts and lift related previous license revocations.