Tell the Council to support the Clean Hands Amendment Act.
Your income should not determine whether you have a driver's license. But under the District's "Clean Hands" law, D.C. residents can't get or renew their licenses or permits if they owe more than $100 in fines or fees to the District government.
Low-income residents who cannot afford to pay fines and fees face consequences, including late fees compounding their debt, limited employment opportunities, and significant restrictions on their ability to travel to work, school, and other appointments. While people who can afford to pay are spared. Not only is the current law ineffective in improving debt collection rates, but it also doesn't make D.C. streets safer.
Affording to pay a D.C. fine doesn't make you a safe driver, just as the inability to pay doesn't make you a reckless driver. This unjust also disproportionately harms Black District residents who are ticketed and fined at higher rates but also subjected to more police stops. And by not considering the ability to pay, D.C.'s Clean Hands law may violate the due process rights of those impacted.
We can reduce this harm with the "Clean Hands Certification Equity Amendment Act of 2021" (Bill 24-237). This bill would allow people to get and renew driver's licenses, regardless of debt status. It would also raise the debt threshold for denying other licenses and permits.
The D.C. Council's Committee on Business and Economic Development is now reviewing Bill 24-237, and they need to hear from you. Send a message urging the Councilmembers to support this bill. <[link removed]>
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We need policies that reflect the economic reality of Americans surviving a pandemic, recession, and wealth inequality. Tell the D.C. Council it's time to let go of debt-based license denials.
Thank you for standing with us,
Policy Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia