Lawsuit says poor shouldn’t lose licenses over traffic fines

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A new federal lawsuit is challenging Alabama’s practice of suspending the driving licenses of people who can’t pay traffic tickets.

The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Montgomery says the practice violates the Fourteenth Amendment by “punishing persons simply because they are poor.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit on behalf of three Alabama residents who had their licenses suspended. The lawsuit states that nearly 23,000 Alabamians have suspended licenses because of the non-payment of tickets.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued the loss of a driver’s licenses can have “devastating consequences” for a person’s ability to earn a living and “meet basic human needs” in a state with limited public transportation options.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.