Driver’s License Restoration Program Builds on Statewide Effort to Forgive Fees, Minor Traffic Issues
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has launched a Driver’s License Restoration program to help low-income individuals who have lost their driver’s licenses due to minor traffic violations and failure to pay court fees. The program builds upon the momentum of an initiative undertaken by the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office to forgive court fees for more than 11,000 Mecklenburg County residents now listed in the NC Fair Chance database.
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is working to help those with suspended licenses understand their eligibility for fee forgiveness, and provide direct legal assistance to others. The goal of the organization’s Driver’s License Restoration program is to help Charlotteans drive legally, improving their access to employment, education and opportunity.
“Speeding tickets and court fines are a relatively minor expense for many of us,” explained attorney Lashieka Hardin who coordinates Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Community Redevelopment project. “But for many Charlotte residents, those expenses compete with critical priorities like putting food on the table and keeping the lights on.”
One in seven North Carolina residents has had their driver’s license suspended, most often for simple violations that include running stop signs, speeding and failing to pay court fees and fines. Without the ability to legally drive to school, work or appointments, community members with suspended licenses face significant barriers to economic mobility. Without access to representation and funds to pay court fees and apply for restoration, these residents can face misdemeanor convictions and even incarceration.
Several government and community partners are tackling this problem from different angles to help North Carolina residents, and Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is filling in the gaps. The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office has forgiven fees for more than 11,000 residents who have lost their licenses.
Those whose offenses were two years old at the time were added to a web-based database compiled by NC Fair Chance, a project of the North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center, the North Carolina Justice Center and district attorney partners across the state. While the database can be an easily accessible and user-friendly first step for the residents listed, it does not include all who may qualify.
To check if your traffic fine or court fee was eliminated, please check the North Carolina Fair Chance database.
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy will provide support for those listed in the database, and help those not listed understand their eligibility for debt forgiveness. For those whose driver’s licenses have been suspended for other reasons, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy may be able to provide direct legal services and representation. Once fees are forgiven and legal issues resolved, the organization will complete the process of restoring clients’ driver’s licenses, putting vulnerable Charlotteans on a path to better opportunity.
Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Driver’s License Restoration program is available to Mecklenburg County residents who earn less than 200% of the federal poverty level and do not have any pending traffic charges.
Those who have lost North Carolina driver’s licenses can call 704-376-1600 ext. 523 for more details. Clients will receive a free copy of their statewide driving record, and if eligible, their cases will be placed with a staff or volunteer attorney to complete the process of driver’s license restoration.