“I am opposed to the current practice of suspending Washingtonians driver’s licenses for failure to pay traffic tickets,” wrote Eric Richey. “This year, the Washington legislature has an opportunity to eliminate this harmful policy.”
Richey explains how Senate Bill 5226, sponsored by Sen. Jesse Salomon (D-Shoreline), will eliminate the practice of suspending licenses for non-public safety reasons while strengthening accountability measures. Currently, the measure has already passed in the Senate with support from both sides of the aisle. The bill rights past wrongs by reinstating individuals’ licenses who were suspended for a reason entirely unrelated to public safety: failing to have the money to pay a court fine.
Richey believes Senate Bill 5226 helps focus the prosecutor’s office – and law enforcement’s resources – on protecting the public’s safety, instead of criminalizing poverty.
“My office and I are committed to continuing to protect the safety of Whatcom County. However, to effectively do so, we must stop using courts and laws to act as debt collectors, and instead use them to protect our residents and hold individuals accountable. Senate Bill 5226 will do that: keeping our roads safe without penalizing residents for an inability to pay court fines and fees. I urge the legislature to pass this bill and continue working in future sessions to decriminalize poverty by eliminating the remaining paths to suspending driver’s licenses, such as missing hearings related to payment plans, that are not covered within SB 5226.” ~ Eric Richey, Whatcom County Prosecutor
Well said. Our current practice of suspending Washingtonians driver’s licenses for failure to pay traffic tickets is outdated. It essentially criminalizes poverty.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.