Press Release: Nevada Driver’s License Act Comes into Force Today
TODAY: Nevada’s new driver’s license law comes into effect
Tens of thousands of Nevadans could regain the freedom to drive
Today, October 1, Nevada’s SB219 comes into full force, ending the state’s widespread practice of suspending an individual’s driver’s license when they cannot afford fines and charges for a minor traffic violation.
This reform could allow tens of thousands of Nevadans to regain their driver’s licenses – and with it their access to work and other necessities.
Signed by Governor Sisolak in June, the new law will help safe drivers regain the freedom to drive by automatically reinstating licenses suspended for court debt – with no reinstatement fees. Provided it has a current address, the Nevada DMV will send a postcard to eligible drivers, notifying them that their license has been reinstated.
The vast majority of Nevada driver’s license suspensions relate to tickets residents cannot afford to pay. Between July 2017 and June 2019, more than 38,000 Nevadans had their driver’s licenses suspended because they could not afford fines and court costs.
SB219 was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Canizzaro and co-sponsored by MP Ceclia Gonzalez, who sponsored a similar bill in the Assembly. “This is a victory for all Nevadans – especially those who have been caught in a cycle of poverty because of the debt of trafficking,” said Member of the Gonzalez Assembly. “I am honored to have co-sponsored such an important bill that has an impact on the lives of our constituents. “
Without a permit, many Nevadans lose the ability to work, care for their children, and access basic needs. A study found that 42% of people lost their jobs after their driver’s license was suspended. Of those who found a new job, 88% reported a pay cut.
Driving is such a necessity that 75% of people continue to drive after their license is suspended. If caught, they can be arrested and jailed for driving with a suspended license, which is one of the most common criminal charges in Nevada. After their arrest, people face more fines and fees, and are often incarcerated long enough to miss their rent or lose their jobs.
“After a decade of advocacy, we were delighted to work with the sponsors of the bill, legislative leaders and to partner with the Fines and Charges Justice Center to support SB219 this legislative session,” said Yvette Williams, President of the Clark County Black Caucus. “We are celebrating the end of debt-based driver’s license suspensions that prevent Nevadans from caring for their families. Nevada’s roads will be safer thanks to the bipartisan leadership and support of the Nevada Legislature and Governor Sisolak. “
Ending debt-based license suspensions enjoys broad bipartisan support. In the past five years alone, 21 other U.S. states – including red states like Mississippi, Idaho, Montana, Utah, West Virginia, Texas, and Arkansas – have passed similar reforms. to reduce debt-based driver’s license suspensions.
In Congress, bipartite federal legislation that pass the House Judiciary Committee earlier this year would push U.S. states to end debt-based driver’s license suspensions by providing them with additional federal funding. If the federal Driving for Opportunity Act is enacted, Nevada will be eligible for these funds.
“Without the ability to drive legally, it is impossible for many Nevadans to get to work and access basic necessities. This new law is a win-win for struggling families and the entire Nevada economy, ”said Leisa moseley, Nevada state director at the Fines and Fees Justice Center.
“This is an important step towards ending our state’s two-tier justice system, where the poor – and especially communities of color – are disproportionately punished. This practice has targeted the most vulnerable among us and this new law will go a long way in ending the criminalization of poverty, ”added Moseley.