About the Campaign

Debt-related driving restrictions make everyday life impossible.

Currently, more than half of U.S. states still suspend, revoke or refuse to renew driver’s licenses for unpaid traffic, toll, misdemeanor and felony fines and fees. The result: millions of people are struggling to survive with debt-related driving restrictions.

License suspensions are the primary way debt-related driving restrictions occur in the United States. However, many states restrict registrations, or other administrative automobile requirements, as a counterproductive means of coercing debt payments for unpaid parking, tolls and other court fines and fees.

It’s time to end debt-based driving restrictions.

Driver’s license suspensions cost people their livelihoods. 86% of Americans drive to work and many jobs require a driver’s license. Without a license, you can’t take your children to school, buy groceries, or get the healthcare you need. Many people have no choice but to continue driving — meaning they risk more fines and fees, a criminal conviction, and incarceration.   

Suspending licenses cuts economic growth. People who can’t work or who lose income due to a suspended license have less money to contribute to the economy and less money to  pay off their initial fines and fees — leaving them saddled with court debt for years.

License suspensions undermine public safety. When law enforcement uses valuable time to cite, stop, fine and arrest people for driving on a suspended license due to unpaid fines and fees, they have less time to investigate and focus on crimes that endanger people’s lives.  

What is Free to Drive?

In 2019, over 100 ideologically diverse organizations launched Free to Drive: a coalition united by the belief that restrictions on driving privileges should be reserved for dangerous driving, not to coerce debt payment or to punish people who miss a court appearance. In the last five years, 22 states and D.C. have passed reforms to curb debt-based driving restrictions.

The Free to Drive campaign unites legal, policy, advocacy, businesses, grassroots, and research organizations committed to the principle that restrictions on driving privileges should only be used for dangerous driving — not to coerce debt payment or to punish those who miss a traffic hearing. 

Which states are driving towards progress?

2017 – 2019

Montana, Texas, Mississippi, California, Idaho, Maine and D.C. enacted legislative reforms to end debt-based suspension. 

2020

Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia, and New York

2021

Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Utah, and Washington

Where does your state stand on debt-based driver’s license suspensions? Find out on our Free to Drive story map.

Join the Coalition 

Is your organization interested in helping impacted people regain the freedom to drive? Our coalition members share resources, exchange knowledge and provide mutual support as we strive to end the practice of driver’s license suspension for unpaid court debt. Tell us about your interest in becoming a member of the Free to Drive coalition using this simple online form. Have more specific questions? Get in touch at info@freetodrive.org

Steering Committee

American Civil Liberties Union

The ACLU is a litigation and advocacy organization that has been defending and preserving the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States for almost 100 years.

Civil Rights Corps

Civil Rights Corps are leaders in landmark litigation and high-impact advocacy that empowers communities to change the unjust legal system.

Fines and Fees Justice Center

The Fines and Fees Justice Center (FFJC) is a national advocacy organization working to create a justice system that treats individuals fairly, ensures public safety and community prosperity, and is funded equitably. FFJC works collaboratively with affected communities and justice system stakeholders to eliminate fees in the justice system, ensure fines are equitably imposed and end abusive collection practices.

JPMorgan Chase

With a history dating back over 200 years, JPMorgan Chase is one of the oldest financial institutions in the United States.  JPMC has $2.5 trillion in client assets under management and our 250,000 employees serve clients in 100+ global markets. We know we’re only as strong as the communities we serve and we believe that business has a vital role to play in driving inclusive economic growth.  We’re committed to using our resources and expertise to advance effective solutions that help people, who have been left behind, benefit from the rewards of a growing economy through collaboration between business, government, and community organizations.

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.

Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ)

RBIJ works with companies large and small to champion fairness, equality and effectiveness across systems of punishment and incarceration.

Right on Crime

Right on Crime is a national campaign of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, in partnership with the American Conservative Union Foundation and Prison Fellowship, to support conservative solutions for reducing crime, restoring victims, reforming offenders, and lowering taxpayer costs.

Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality, and specifically challenges the ways in which private and public systems doubly punish the poor and create a two-tiered system of justice based on wealth.

Texas Appleseed

Texas Appleseed promotes social and economic justice for all Texans by leveraging the skills and resources of volunteer lawyers and other professionals to identify practical solutions to systemic problems.

Virginia Legal Aid Justice Center

The Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) fights injustice in the lives of individual Virginians while rooting out exploitative policies and practices that keep people in poverty. LAJC uses impact litigation, community organizing, and policy advocacy to solve urgent problems in areas such as housing, education, civil rights, workers’ rights, immigration, healthcare and consumer finance. LAJC’s primary service areas are Charlottesville, Northern Virginia, Richmond and Petersburg, but the effects of their work are felt statewide.

Coalition Members

American Civil Liberties Union
ACLU of Colorado
ACLU of Florida
ACLU of Hawaii
ACLU of Illinois
ACLU of New Hampshire
ACLU of New Mexico
ACLU of Oklahoma
ACLU of Oregon
ACLU of Washington
ACLU of Virginia
ACLU of Tennessee
Advancement Project
Advocates for Basic Legal Equity, Inc
African American Health Disparities Task Force
Alabama Appleseed
American Legislative Exchange Council
Americans for Prosperity Georgia
Americans for Prosperity Utah
American Friends Service Committee- WV
Americans for Tax Reform
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Arnold Ventures
Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
Bay Area Legal Aid
Berkeley Policy Advocacy Clinic
Brennan Center
Bronx Freedom Fund
Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
CatholicNetwork US
Center for American Progress
Center for Civil Justice
Center for Employment Opportunities
Center for Patient Partnerships
Chicago Appleseed
Chicago Jobs Council
City of Atlanta Office of the Public Defender
Civil Rights Corps
Coalition for Motorist Rights
Community Justice Exchange
Community Justice Project
Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School
Columbia Legal Services
Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation
Delaware Center for Justice
Drug Policy Alliance
Due Process Institute
East Bay Community Law Center
Engage: Bringing Women Together to Find Solutions
Equal Justice Under Law
Evans Law
Fines and Fees Justice Center
FreedomWorks
FWD.us
Georgia Budget & Policy Institute
Georgia Justice Project
Global Citizen
GoodPlus Foundation
Health Equity Action Team
Heartland Alliance
Homeboy Industries
Human Rights Defense Center
Insight Center
Institute for Justice
JP Morgan Chase
Just City
Justice & Accountability Center of Louisiana
Juvenile Law Center
Kansas Appleseed
Koch Industries
Latino Justice PRLDEF
Law Enforcement Action Partnership
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law San Francisco
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
League of Women Voters of Alachua County, FL
Legal Aid Columbus
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma
Legal Services of New Jersey
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Legal Services of Northern California
Libertas Institute
LIFT Dane
Louisiana Appleseed Center for Law & Justice
Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition
Minnesota Asset Building Coalition
Missouri Appleseed
Monroe County Public Defender’s Office
National Action Network
National Association Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Center for Access to Justice
National Center for Law and Economic Justice
National Center for Youth Law
National Consumer Law Center
National Juvenile Defender Center
National Legal Aid & Defender Association
National LGBTQ Task Force
National WIC Association
New Jersey Together
NM Center on Law and Poverty
Noris
North Carolina Justice Center
Ohio Poverty Law Center
Oklahoma Policy Institute
Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform
Oklahoma Women’s Coalition
PolicyLink
Prison Policy Initiative
Prisoners with Children
Public Defender Association
R Street Institute
Reason Foundation
Responsible Business Initiative for Justice
Richmond Community Bail Fund
Right on Crime
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
The Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Southeastern Ohio Legal Services
Southern Poverty Law Center
Southerners on New Ground
Still She Rises
Tennessee Justice Center
Texas Appleseed
Texas Civil Rights Project
Texas Fair Defense Project
Texas Legal Services Center
Texas Public Policy Foundation
The Bail Project
The Beacon
The Bronx Defenders
The Bronx Freedom Fund
The First 72+
The Justice Collaborative
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
The Legal Aid Society
The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
The San Francisco Justice Project
Tzedek DC
Uber Technologies
Virginia Legal Aid Justice Center
Vision Zero Network
Volunteer Legal Services Project
Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Washington Defender Association
Washington Drivers Relicensing Taskforce
Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
Western New York Law Center
Woodstock Institute

The legal services organizations governed by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) who are members of this coalition abstain from and do not endorse policy reform work – such as attempting to influence legislation, regulation, or executive orders – not permitted by the LSC rules. Any advocacy done through Free to Drive is done by individual members in their capacity as an individual organization and does not imply endorsement by coalition members who do not sign on to specific efforts in question.