Report: 1 in 7 North Carolina Drivers has a Suspended License.

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About one in seven drivers in North Carolina currently has a license suspended for not appearing in court or paying court fines and fees according to a report by Duke University law professor Brandon Garrett and post-doctoral fellow William Crozier.

In this Article, we analyze data concerning driver's license suspension for traffic offenses. The interest of a person in a driver’s license is “substantial,” and the suspension of a license by the state can result in “inconvenience and economic hardship suffered,” as the U.S. Supreme Court has observed, including because a license may “essential in the pursuit of a livelihood.” However, in this analysis of North Carolina data, we found that there are 1,225,000 active driver’s licenses suspensions in North Carolina for non-driving related reasons, relating to failure to pay traffic fines and court courts, and failure to appear in court for traffic offenses. These suspensions constitute about 15% of all adult drivers in the state. Of those, 827,000 are for failure to appear in court, 263,000 for failure to comply with orders to pay traffic costs, fines, and fees, and 135,000 for both. These suspensions are disproportionately imposed on minority residents. Of those with driver’s license suspensions, 33% of those with failure to appear suspensions are black and 24% Latinx, while 35% were white. The demographics for all North Carolina residents who are of driving age include: 65% white, 21% black, and 8% Latinx. Still more severe consequences, DWLR charges, also disproportionately fall on minority residents. We also conducted a series of mixed-model linear regressions on North Carolina driver’s license suspensions from 2010-2017, analyzing the effects of race, poverty, population size, traffic court cases and traffic stops on suspensions per county. Overall, population accounts for most of the variation in suspensions: the more people in the county, the more people have suspended licenses. When we control for population, we see little evidence that traffic stops or traffic cases are driving suspensions. We find that the relationship between the number of people in poverty and the number of suspensions in a county is dependent on race. Put another way, increasing a county’s population by one white individual below poverty increases the number of suspensions by a greater amount than increasing the county’s population by one white above poverty. However, increasing the population by one black individual below poverty increases the number of suspensions by less than increasing the county population by one black individual above poverty. This suggests that poverty functions differently for whites than it does for blacks. We conclude by setting out questions for future research, and describing both law and policy responses to driver’s license suspensions in other jurisdictions, including: constitutional challenges, restoration efforts, dismissals of charges, and legislative efforts to restore licenses and end the suspension of driver’s licenses for non-driving related traffic offenses.”


Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.