In early June, legislation that seeks to expand the denial of vehicle registration to individuals who may have outstanding unpaid interest or penalties on fines owed to a city or town was introduced.
The legislation is problematic and worrisome since it will especially impact low-income families. The ACLU submitted testimony arguing that only traffic related fines should be considered when it comes to the revocation or denial of a car registration. Using a vehicle as a tool for punishment to make individuals pay for fines that may have nothing to do with a traffic violation will have larger consequences in the long run. Driving without a registered vehicle leads to substantial penalties or even a revoked license, which simply prolongs and worsens the person’s financial issues and hardships.
Michael Araujo, Executive Director of Jobs for Justice wrote an article on RI Future about this legislation and on the impact that it will have on some of the most vulnerable Rhode Island residents.
Unfortunately, this bill passed the House and the Senate the last week of June and was signed by the Governor into law in July.