TUCSON (KVOA) – Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation into law Wednesday that ensures Arizonans will not have their driver’s license suspended if they cannot afford to pay for a traffic fine.
Senate Bill 1551, which was passed in the Arizona House and Senate, will affect approximately 31,000 Arizonans whose driver's licenses were suspended for failure to pay the traffic fees or fines.
The legislation ends the practice of suspending or restricting a person’s driver's license for failing to pay a civil penalty, surcharge or assessment alone. It also reinstates driving privileges to Arizona drivers whose licenses were suspended or restricted for the failure to pay a civil traffic violation alone.
“Taking away an Arizonan’s driver’s license when they can’t pay for a traffic ticket just doesn’t make sense," Ducey said. "People need to drive to places like medical appointments, school and work to earn a living. There’s no sense in getting in the way of that when they can’t afford the fine, especially when there are other steps the courts can take to collect fees. My thanks goes to Senator Paul Boyer for leading on legislation that will protect working families and Arizonans in need.”
Further, the legislation gave judges the responsibility to waive for mitigate mandatory fines if it would be an unreasonable hardship on the person who committed the violation. Judges may not mitigate fines that were given for driving under the influence.
Arizona drivers are still responsible for paying any traffic fines imposed by the courts, and the courts may proceed to pursue payment through collection programs that do not involve suspension of drivers’ licenses.
“Working families and Arizonans who are struggling financially need support — not barriers,” said Sen. Paul Boyer. “Senate Bill 1551 helps Arizonans who have been stripped of their driving privileges, and it will protect those who face fines they cannot immediately pay. Thanks to my fellow legislators for the unanimous support, and to Governor Ducey for signing legislation that supports Arizonans of various economic backgrounds.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written by News 4 Tucson's Averie Klonowski.