RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced an amendment to the enrolled budget that will eliminate the suspension of driving privileges for nonpayment of court fines and costs. This amendment would also reinstate driving privileges for the more than 627,000 Virginians who currently have their licenses suspended.

“The practice of suspending a person’s driver’s license for nonpayment of court fines and costs is inequitable—it’s past time we end it,”said Governor Northam. “A driver’s license is critical to daily life, including a person’s ability to maintain a job. Eliminating a process that envelops hundreds of thousands of Virginians in a counterproductive cycle is not only fair, it’s also the right thing to do.”

During the 2019 legislative session, Governor Northam proposed Senate Bill 1613, carried by Senator Adam Ebbin, and House Bill 2488, carried by Delegate Alfonso Lopez to address this issue. Governor Northam also included funding in his budget to address potential lost revenue from reinstatement fees to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Trauma Center Fund. While these bills ultimately failed, the funding remained in the budget.

The proposed bill died in committee during the General Assembly session. Judges, Commonwealth’s attorneys and localities that depend on ticket revenue are against it because they fear people won’t pay fines if there is no threat of losing driving privileges for non-payment.

The amendment has also been proposed via the budget, which will likely draw a parliamentary challenge from lawmakers.

The Governor’s amendments will be heard and voted on by the General Assembly when they return in April for the veto session.