Pennsylvanians owe $1 billion in unpaid fines and court costs, and a state lawmaker wants the scofflaws to pay up or lose their driver’s license and have any wages and lottery winnings attached.
State Senator Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia) has introduced two bills to pressure individuals to pay the fines, fees and delinquent costs they owe. Under SB 918 PennDOT would “suspend your driver’s license. If your driver’s license was about to expire, they wouldn’t renew it,” said Stack.
To implement these penalties, PennDOT says it would cost $400,000 a year to develop and install the verification software as well as administrative costs. “$400,000 compared to $1 billion we might be able to collect, it’s a drop in the bucket, and I think it’s money well spent.”
Stack said he thinks this leverage will work. “I think that most people if they thought they were going to lose their driver’s license would pay what they owe.”
He added that even if the state collects a portion of what is owed “we would be able to plug so many shortfalls into the budget” and help offset the state’s appropriations for the court system.
Stack’s second measure (SB 919) would allow the courts to attach the income, state income tax refunds and lottery winnings of people that have delinquent fines, costs and court-ordered restitution.
His bills also go after people convicted of criminal acts who have been ordered to compensate victims.
“I think we’ve got to make the people pay the restitution and we’ve got to compensate victims for the harm done to them,” said Stack.
The legislation also allows the courts and offenders to enter into repayment plans to avoid income attachment.