NY Ends License Suspension for Unpaid Fines
By Kristin Galison, Esq.
Mineola, New York, January 26, 2021 – Earlier this month Governor Cuomo signed an amended version of the Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act that ends the practice of suspending an individual’s driver’s license if they fail to pay a traffic fine. In the past if a person failed to pay the fine owed after pleading guilty to a traffic offense it would result in the suspension of their driver’s license. In order to get their license reinstated they would have to pay the fine owed plus an additional $70.00 suspension lift fee. The amended Act does away with the practice of suspending a person’s driver’s license and imposing reinstatement fees due to non-payment of traffic fines.
Prior to this new legislation being passed, there were hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers whose driver’s licenses were suspended for failure to pay traffic fines. Those motorists are in luck because the amended Act applies to and benefits them as well. The suspensions on their driver’s licenses for failure to pay fines will be lifted as a result of this new legislation, allowing their licenses to be reinstated.
The revised Act also now provides fine payment options. Traffic fines may still be paid in full or motorists can choose a payment plan to pay their fine. The payment plan that is now offered allows a person to pay either $25 a month or 2% of their monthly income, whichever is greater towards the traffic fine that is owed.
It should be noted that the amended legislation does not reinstate the driver’s licenses of New Yorkers who failed to answer their traffic tickets or failed to appear at traffic court hearings and whose licenses were suspended as a result. If an individual fails to answer or appear in court for a traffic ticket their license may still be suspended, and any existing such suspensions remain in effect. The new legislation does however aim to help those motorists by providing them with the option to enter into a payment plan to pay any traffic fines owed. The motorists will still have to pay the fines owed plus the $70.00 suspension lift fee, but the fines and reinstatement fee can be folded into a total payment plan amount. Most importantly, once the motorist enters into the payment plan and begins making payments their license can be reinstated as opposed to in the past when the full fine payment and reinstatement fee had to be paid before their license could reinstated. Also, of significance is that the DMV must now send two notifications of an impending suspension to an individual before it may impose such suspension on the person’s driver’s license. In the past, only one notification was required.