DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A Duke University study released Monday says about one out of seven people in North Carolina who can drive currently have their license suspended.
Duke Law researchers found there are 1.2 million people in the state with active driver’s license suspensions for non-driving related reasons.
“I was driving while my license was suspended,” said Andrea Hudson. “There were certain jobs that I couldn’t even apply for because you had to have a driver’s license.”
Hudson had her license suspended for 10 years. She received tickets, racked up fines, but didn’t have the money to pay.
But she had to get to work.
“It was very scary because I was always in fear about whether or not I was going to go to jail,” she said.
Hudson did get arrested and spent 10 days in jail.
According to Duke’s study, 827,000 suspensions are for failure to appear in court, 263,000 of them are for failure to comply with orders to pay fines and fees and 135,000 suspensions are because of both.
Researcher Dr. William Crozier said it’s a never-ending cycle.
“That problem can just perpetuate,” Crozier said. “Once you get suspended, you can’t go to work anymore so then you can never afford to pay your fines.”
While not having the money is one root of the problem, Crozier said there are several solutions.
“Maybe educating people about all of the consequences of how a suspension or failure to pay could play out for you, but I don’t think that’s it. I think there needs to be changes in the law as well,” he said.
Eventually, Hudson got her license back and she wants that for everyone.
“Your license shouldn’t be suspended because you can’t afford to pay fines and fees,” she said.
Steps are being made to help people get their licenses back. Durham County’s district attorney is working with the court system to restore licenses to thousands of people who have had their licenses suspended for more than 2 years for minor offenses.