Thank you to the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, NCIOLTA, and the North Carolina Bar Foundation Endowment for their support of Driver’s License Restoration efforts.
Under North Carolina law, a person who fails to appear in court to resolve a traffic ticket or fails to pay traffic or criminal court debt is subjected to an indefinite suspension of his or her driver’s license, regardless of whether it is the person’s first ticket or first time failing to resolve a ticket.
The inability to pay traffic court fines and fees can have dire consequences for drivers and their families. This is particularly true for North Carolinians who are already economically vulnerable and those who live in rural areas without reliable public transportation. For more information about how Driver’s License Restoration efforts are needed, view When Debt Takes the Wheel here.
Strategy for Relief:
Since 2017, the Pro Bono Resource Center has partnered with the North Carolina Justice Center on the Driver’s License Restoration Project. Originally, the Pro Bono Resource Center was awarded a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to build on these efforts and to create and coordinate a statewide network of driver’s license restoration mass relief debt remittance. The Pro Bono Resource Center now receives additional funding for the Driver’s License Restoration Project from a variety of grant funders, including NCIOLTA and the North Carolina Bar Foundation Endowment, and many law firm partners.
As part of the Driver’s License Restoration Project, the Pro Bono Resource Center coordinates with district attorney partners to motion the court to remit traffic court costs and fees for people with long-term license suspensions stemming from low-level traffic offenses.
The Pro Bono Resource Center also recruits and trains volunteer attorneys to draft license restoration advice letters for people who have requested help through ncfairchance.org. The letters summarize the suspensions for each client and provide steps for resolving each suspension pro se.
Relief from Fines and Fees
The Pro Bono Resource Center also coordinates pro bono individual representation for clients with outstanding court debt from traffic tickets in certain counties. This representation enables clients to lift suspensions for unpaid fines and fees and either restore their license or move closer to license restoration.
To see if you have received relief as part of the Driver’s License Restoration Project or to request a license restoration advice letter, click here.
There is a significant need for pro bono attorneys and legal professionals to help with the Driver’s License Restoration Project. There are two ways to volunteer: (1) Advice Letter Project – draft advice letters to people who have requested help and (2) Debt Forgiveness Project – appear in court on behalf of individual clients to request relief from fines and fees.
For the Advice Letter Project, volunteers will receive one hour of training (for CLE credit) that will instruct them how to read driving records so they can identify the cause(s) of the client’s suspension. Following the training, volunteers will work for an hour to create advice letters using the technology provided. Malpractice insurance will be provided. A supervising attorney will be available to answer questions and will review, sign, and send the letters. Eligible volunteers include both NC and out-of-state attorneys and both certified and non-certified paralegals and legal assistants. To volunteer with your employer or professional group, please send inquiries to Rachel Royal at email@example.com.
For the Debt Forgiveness Project, pro bono attorneys will represent individuals. Volunteers will receive 1.5 hours of training (no CLE credit) that will instruct them on the basics of license restoration and cover the filings and court appearances for requesting relief from fines and fees. Volunteers will work on their own time to contact clients and provide representation. Malpractice insurance will be provided. A supervising attorney will be available to answer questions and provide guidance. Only NC license attorneys are eligible to volunteer for this portion of the project. To learn more and sign up, click here.
Contact Meghan Martie at firstname.lastname@example.org.