SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – There were cheers in Santa Fe’s City Council chambers Wednesday evening after the council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance ending so-called “Debt-Based Driver’s License Suspensions. The bill prohibits Santa Fe’s Municipal Court from notifying the MVD when a driver fails to pay a traffic fine.
This was a big relief for a lot of people in Santa Fe. One woman told councilors how she experienced a loss of mobility when her license was suspended after receiving a minor traffic ticket a few years ago.
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“Because my case was traffic-related I did not have representation, as a result, I agreed to payments I knew I could not afford for fear of being put in jail,” a Santa Fe resident said. “As a mother of three young children and a caretaker to my father at the time, I needed to be able to drive and I needed every dollar to take care of my family. Through sacrifice, I eventually climbed out of this financial hole, but I and my family suffered.”
The ordinance does not eliminate suspensions for dangerous drivers such as people who rack up too many tickets or for DWIs.
“When we think about ‘Santafecinos’, people in Santa Fe, and New Mexico taking away a license from a working father or mother, it’s really condemning them into a life that is without the ability to be able to work or care for their families.”
No one showed up in opposition to the bill.
Santa Fe hopes the state will pass a similar law to curb debt-based license suspensions as 22 other states have over the past five years.