Challenges to Employment

Fines, Fees, and License Suspensions

By Niko Leiva, Emily Marano

Millions of Americans have had their driver’s licenses suspended at some point because they have not paid legal fines and fees. Having one’s license suspended can make it harder to find and keep a job, can increase one’s exposure to the criminal legal system, and can generally place great strain on one’s life and the life of one’s family. This brief examines the causes, consequences, and scope of the practice of suspending driver’s licenses due to unpaid fines or fees. It focuses on the impact of license suspension on employment, while also examining the larger, structural factors that facilitate the widespread use of legal fines and fees to generate revenue for municipalities. Last, the brief highlights He Got Up!, a program based in Florida that works to address the challenges of people affected by this practice.

Leiva, Niko and Emily Marano. 2022. “Challenges to Employment.” New York: MDRC.