Welcome to North Carolina, I-85 Northbound by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

North Carolina could be missing out on $684,756,000 in economic activity due to driver’s license suspensions over court debt.

The state suspends 827,000 licenses for debt, each of these suspensions reduces spending by an estimated $828.

This reduction in spending figure is based on research that found there is a 2.2% reduction in an individual’s spending when their driver’s license is suspended, via Dartmouth College professor Steve Mello. Per capita income for North Carolina is $37,641 (U.S. Census).

These economic costs further reveal the consequences of suspending driver’s licenses over court debt. These are not suspensions over dangerous driving and road safety.

The negative impact on the state’s economy hurts all North Carolinians.

License suspension also leads to job loss. A Rutgers University analysis found 42% of people lost jobs after their driver’s license was suspended.  

License suspension not only impacts someone’s current job, but limits their ability to find certain types of work into the future. This is not helpful as the state faces a labor shortage.

In North Carolina “even if every unemployed worker was connected with an available job, there would still be nearly 160,000 open positions and no one to fill them. That’s according to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce.” 

These major economic factors have led to more than half of the 50 states enacting reforms to the practice of suspending driver’s licenses over court debt.

North Carolina has a tremendous opportunity to address the issue by passing House Bill 888 this year.

House Bill 888 (H888) is sponsored by State Representatives Jason Saine (R-97), Ashton Wheeler Clemmons (D-57), Allen Chesser (R-25), and Joe John (D-40). The bill “eliminates the system of suspending a person’s driver’s license” as a legal penalty, putting an end to the counterproductive practice in the Tar Heel state once and for all.