Bad drivers probably shouldn't be on the road. On this point, people agree. Lawmakers, though, have added their own logic. They think many good drivers shouldn't be on the road either, like those who litter or fail to vaccinate the dog. Dozens of no-no's unrelated to highway safety can get your license yanked . The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) estimates that about 7 percent of U.S. drivers have a suspended license at any given time. Of those 15 million drivers, 39 percent lost their licenses for reasons that had nothing to do with driving. A large number of them will need to ask their insurance companies to file an SR-22 as part of their path toward license reinstatement. What kinds of reasons? Read on.
1. Unpaid Parking Tickets. Laws vary by state. A violation that triggers a license suspension in New York may not do so in Oklahoma. But every jurisdiction in the United States and Canada has at least some - or many - laws on the books that suspend driving privileges for things that have nothing to do with driving. One of the most common ones is for unpaid parking tickets. Given that late fees typically accrue, and a suspension can last until the fine is paid, you sure don't want to land a $600 ticket in Seattle or a $1,000 ticket in San Francisco.
2. Borrowing the Wrong Car. A Wisconsin woman lost her license after the relative's car she'd borrowed was stopped for suspended registration. What many people don't know is that tickets for vehicle violations are issued to whomever is driving the car at the time. This is true even if it's an equipment violation, and even if the driver has no way of knowing about it. The vehicle was not registered because of parking tickets. It was a family member's car. But she didn't know. The woman, a single mother, was unable to pay a $200 ticket that followed, and her license was suspended for two years. She landed a good job shortly thereafter, but without transportation had to quit.
3. Driving Without Insurance. In 32 states, judges can suspend someone's license the first time they are caught driving without insurance. In seven states, first-time offenders can also be jailed.The Consumer Federation of America, which asserts that many drivers are uninsured because they can't afford the cost, found that states with harsh penalties for uninsured drivers don't enjoy lower rates of uninsured drivers, indicating that suspensions don't serve their intended purpose. Opponents aren't suggesting people drive uninsured vehicles. Rather, they argue, license suspensions inhibit people's ability to pay for the necessary insurance. Someone whose driver's license is suspended cannot legally drive a friend's, family member's or employer's automobile, making it difficult to find and keep a job.
4. Bounced or Bad Checks. Many of the infractions that trigger a license suspension revolve around unpaid bills. Create a big enough carrot - in this case a driver’s license - and people will pay. So goes the thinking. Even if you don't need to drive to get to work, driver's licenses are being used by employers as a screening method for employment .
5. Litter, Overdue Library Books, and More! it's rare for judges to suspend driver's licenses for things like overdue library books. Once unpaid fines mount, however, people's licenses are at risk, regardless of whether they pose a risk to other drivers. An analysis of federal crash data by the AAMVA found that 7 percent of drivers suspended for reasons unrelated to driving ended up getting a moving violation later, compared with 34 percent of those suspended for driving-related reasons.
6. Failure to Pay Child Support. The federal government generally leaves driver licensing issues to the states. But occasionally it uses its hefty bankroll as leverage, in this case essentially forcing states to take away the licenses of anyone delinquent on child-support payments. States that don't comply aren't eligible for federal funding of their child-support enforcement programs. All 43 states surveyed by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) complied. In Nebraska, people who don't make their alimony payments can also lose their license.
7. Drug Possession. More than 200,000 Americans a year lose their driver's licenses for drug offenses that occur off the road, according to The Clemency Report, a research publication. Most are for marijuana possession. These sometimes-draconian measures - in Massachusetts, for example, possession of any illegal drug within 1,000 feet of a school results in an automatic five-year suspension - are a relic of a decades-old federal war on drugs. In 1992, the U.S. government passed a law requiring states to enact mandatory six-month suspensions for any drug convictions or lose up to 10 percent of their federal highway funding. Thirty-four states, however, have since opted out. The remaining 16 states are concentrated in the South and the Northeast outside New England. These, according to The Clemency Report, "are home to 141 million people, including most of the nation's minority population and a disproportionate share of the poor." (This information as to drug possession is in a changing mode with various states legalizing marijuana).
8. Prostitution, Public Intoxication and Other Socially Unacceptable Behaviors. Plenty of behaviors deemed socially unacceptable can cost you your driver's license, even if none of them are undertaken behind the wheel of a car. Once you lose your license, you'll probably feel worse. A 2006 state of New Jersey survey identified the psychological and social repercussions: 83 percent of those who'd lose their driver's licenses experienced increased stress; 81 percent reported experiencing a loss of freedom; 74 percent said it placed a strain on family, friends and colleagues; 69 percent felt ashamed; and 68 percent said they were too embarrassed to tell anyone.
9. Failure to Appear In Court. It's probably no surprise that if you're struggling financially you're more likely to lose your driver's license, no matter how safe a driver you are. The failure to either pay a fine or appear in court to contest it is a common trigger of license suspensions. The problem often begins with a traffic stop for a simple equipment violation: a broken headlight, a missing front plate, an expired tag. People may be unable to pay the fine, but see no point in contesting it in court. Doing neither leads to additional charges and mounting fines. Ignoring leads to consequences that many folks don’t realize could happen.
10. Fuel Theft, Handicapped Parking Violations, Defacing Signs. Misuse of a handicap space; immigration or visa expiration; graffiti; defacing signs; flying while intoxicated. The most common mis-perception is that the threat of a license being suspended does change people's behavior, but 75 percent of the folks who are suspended continue to drive anyway. The stigma is gone, plus, people are so dependent on their cars, they just don't know what to do.
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