The Champion

January-February 2017 , Page 16 

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NACDL News: Department of Justice Files Yet Another Important Statement of Interest

By Diane Price

Read more NACDL News columns.

Stinnie v. Holcomb is a class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia challenging the constitutionality of Virginia’s alleged practice of automatically suspending driver’s licenses for failure to pay court debts. The plaintiffs allege that Virginia affords no opportunity for an individual whose license is suspended to be heard as to the reasons for nonpayment, and that the license remains suspended until the fees are paid or a payment plan is arranged and the person pays a license reinstatement fee. On Nov. 7, 2016, the Department of Justice filed a statement of interest, arguing that a driver’s license is a protected interest that cannot be revoked without due process and that the automatic suspension of a license for failure to pay court debts without any inquiry into the ability to pay is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The result of such an action is that indigent individuals are effectively punished for their pove

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