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Bipartisan support builds for Coons-Wicker Driving for Opportunity Act

Delaware News Desk

Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, announced on Aug. 3 that four additional senators — John Boozman, R-Arkansas; Kamala Harris, D-California; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; and Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland — are cosponsoring their bipartisan legislation to encourage states to stop debt-based driver’s license suspensions.

Since the Driving for Opportunity Act was introduced earlier this month, it has continued to garner support from a variety of organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National District Attorneys Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Urban League and Instacart.

“We are pleased to have the growing support of our Senate colleagues in working to end a practice that has punished poverty and strained police-community relations for too long,” said Coons. “Suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid fines and fees makes it harder for Americans to hold down a job and care for their families, and places an undue burden on our police officers. The widespread, bipartisan support for this bill underscores the need to end this counterproductive policy once and for all.”

Nationwide, at least 11 million people have their driver’s licenses suspended because they cannot pay fines or fees, not for any public safety reasons. For a one-pager on the Driving for Opportunity Act, visit bit.ly/31hCzYL; for the full text of the bill, visit bit.ly/3i15bfw.

Before heading to Washington, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) addresses a group of advocates working to reduce recidivism and like-minded business leaders at Second Chance Farms in Wilmington, Delaware, July 20, 2020. Coons talked about his work as an original cosponsor of the revised First Step Act of 2018 and provided details of the Driving for Opportunity Act, a bill introduced by Sen. Coons and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) this month. This bipartisan bill aims to create incentives to stop debt-based driver’s license suspensions. Nationwide, at least 11 million people have their driver’s licenses suspended because they cannot pay fines or fees, not for any public safety reasons. These suspensions make it harder for Delawareans to commute to work to pay off the debts and places an unnecessary burden on the police to enforce suspensions, especially putting officers and citizens at increased risk of infection during a pandemic. (Photo by Office of U.S. Sen. Chris Coons/Released)