SC drivers sue DMV over automatic license suspension policy

Drivers in South Carolina are suing the Department of Motor Vehicles in their state over a law that allows licenses to be suspended if traffic fines aren’t paid.

Sometimes, it's difficult to even get inside the door in some South Carolina DMV offices, but sometimes it has nothing to do with the crowds.

That’s the point behind a lawsuit filed against the state's DMV by three women.

“This lawsuit is about trying to make a system that's fair for both rich and poor alike attorney Adam Protheroe. 

The line between rich and poor is the important part of the suit which takes aim at the DMV's policy of automatically suspending licenses for unpaid violations.

The lawsuit says that act is unconstitutional because drivers who are poor have no way to make their case as to why they can't pay.

“Someone who has the ability to pay can pay and move on with their lives. Someone who can't pay, though, is stuck in a cycle of losing jobs, inability to interact with their family, ability to get health care,” Protheroe said.

The lawsuit also alleges a racial undertone, disproportionately affecting African-Americans. Many who have heard about the lawsuit say a change would make sense.

“You can't drive to work, because if you get caught and you get in trouble again,” driver Deborah Hattabaugh said. 

The lawsuit is not looking to do away with traffic fines for the poor, but it does want to do away with reinstatement costs and court fees and essentially give a lifeline to those who want to pay, but can't.

“They're hoping that they can get their driver's licenses back and go on with their lives,” Protheroe said.