She said the policy was implemented Sept. 1 to keep drivers who cannot afford to pay existing fines and court costs from adding even more debt. Those drivers can still be arrested by law enforcement officers and will be required to come to court, but in most cases there will be no prosecution or additional fines.
“These cases take up valuable time and resources in court and do nothing to move the needle on public safety,” said Gen. Weirich. “We’re trying to help get people out of the revolving door in which they are simply accumulating more and more debt for basically driving while poor. Those whose licenses have been revoked for reasons such as drunken driving or other criminal activity will still be prosecuted, but if your driver’s license has been revoked only because you owe fines or child support, the case will be dismissed.”
Since the policy began, 3,643 cases of “driving while license suspended, revoked or cancelled” (DWLSRC) have been dismissed by prosecutors, reducing the dockets by 43 percent in General Sessions Criminal Courts. (See graphic attachment.)
“This policy is all about public safety,” said Gen. Weirich. “It does not mean it is open season for driving on a revoked license, because you still can be stopped, arrested or ticketed, and be required to come down to 201 Poplar. Also, prosecutors still will use their discretion, so if someone who owes money also is deemed to be a danger to the community, that driver will be in for a bad day.”
This summer the DA’s Office organized Restoration Saturday which brought several agencies together to help hundreds of drivers get their licenses restored if owing money was the only issue. Restoration Saturday II is scheduled for Oct. 27 at Metropolitan Baptist Church.