About

 

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia suspend, revoke or refuse to renew driver’s licenses for unpaid traffic, toll, misdemeanor and felony fines and fees, resulting in more than 11 million debt-related suspensions nationwide. These suspensions not only prevent people from earning the money they need to pay their “court debt,” but also undercut their ability to support themselves, their families and the community.  

Driver’s license suspensions make life almost impossible. Since 86% of Americans drive to work and many jobs require a driver’s license, suspensions often cost people their jobs. Without a driver’s license, people can’t take their children to school, get to the grocery store, or even get the healthcare they need for themselves and their families.  And, because 83% of Americans report driving a car multiple times a week, many continue driving. When they do, they risk a criminal conviction, more fines and fees and incarceration. 

Perversely, driver’s license suspensions often undercut economic growth and undermine public safety. People who can’t work or who lose income because their licenses are suspended have less money to spend and contribute to the economy.  And the time spent by law enforcement stopping, citing and arresting people for driving on a suspended license could be more productively used fighting serious crime. 

Recognizing how ineffective suspensions are, policymakers are taking action. In the past two years, Montana, Texas, Virginia, Mississippi, California, Idaho, Maine, and the District of Columbia have enacted legislative reforms to tackle debt-based suspension. 

To accelerate reform nationwide, more than 100 ideologically diverse organizations joined forces in September 2019 to launch the Free to Drive campaign. This national campaign is bringing together legal, policy, advocacy, grassroots, and research organizations committed to the principle that restrictions on driving privileges should only be used for dangerous driving, and not to coerce debt payment or to punish people who miss a court appearance. 

 

Steering Committee Members

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 is a national advocacy organization working to eliminate criminal legal fees and reform the imposition and collection of fines. 

Koch Industries

Food. Shelter. Clothing. Transportation. Koch Industries creates life’s basic necessities, while innovating ways to make them even better. Based in Wichita, Kansas, Koch Industries is one of the largest private companies in America. Koch companies employ nearly 130,000 people worldwide, with about 67,000 of those in the U.S.

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.

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

ACLU of Colorado

ACLU of Illinois

ACLU of New Hampshire

ACLU of Oklahoma

ACLU of Oregon

ACLU of Tennessee

ACLU of Virginia

ACLU of Washington

Advocates for Basic Legal Equity, Inc.

African American Health Disparities Task Force

Alabama Appleseed

American Legislative Exchange Council

Arnold Ventures

Association of Prosecuting Attorneys

The Bail Project

Bay Area Legal Aid

Berkeley Policy Advocacy Clinic

Brennan Center for Justice

The Bronx Defenders

Bronx Freedom Fund

Brooklyn Community Bail Fund

Center for American Progress

Center for Civil Justice

Center for Employment Opportunities

Chicago Jobs Council

City of Atlanta Office of the Public Defender

Columbia Legal Services

Community Justice Exchange

Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School

Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation

Delaware Center for Justice

East Bay Community Law Center 

Equal Justice Under Law

Evans Law

The First 72+

FreedomWorks

FWD.US

Georgia Justice Project

Global Citizen

GoodPlus Foundation

Health Equity Action Team

Heartland Alliance

Homeboy Industries

Human Rights Defense Center

Insight Center

Institute for Justice

The Justice Collaborative

Juvenile Law Center

Kansas Appleseed

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Law Enforcement Action Partnership

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights – San Francisco

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Legal Aid Columbus

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children

Legal Services of Northern California

The Legal Aid Society

Minnesota Asset Building Coalition

Missouri Appleseed

Monroe County Public Defender’s Office

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

National Center for Access to 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 Mexico Center on Law and Poverty

Ohio Poverty Law Center

Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform

Oregon Law Center

PolicyLink

Prisoners with Children

Public Defender Association

Responsible Business Initiative for Justice

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

Shriver Center

Southeastern Ohio Legal Services

Southern Poverty Law Center

Southerners on New Ground

Still She Rises

Texas Civil Rights Project

Texas Fair Defense Project

Texas Legal Services Center

Texas Public Policy Foundation

Tzedek DC

Uber Technologies

Volunteer Legal Services Project

Washington Defender Association

Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers