Transportation officials and advocates for low-income Vermonters are looking for ways to reduce the number of Vermonters who have had their licenses suspended, often for offenses that have nothing to do with highway safety. Chris Curtis, a staff attorney at Vermont Legal Aid, says about two-thirds of all license suspensions stem from failure to pay fines.
Curtis says middle- and upper-income Vermonters aren’t going to let a several hundred dollar fine get in the way of their driving privileges.
“But if you’re living on Reach Up in the state of Vermont, and your total income is only $640 a month, which is the average benefit amount for a family of three, a $200 fine may as well be $2,000. It’s a third of their monthly income,” Curtis says.
Curtis is among the people Minter has assembled for a driver restoration task force, which will push for legislative reforms to solve the problem.