Lawsuit challenges Michigan driver’s license suspensions

FLINT, Mich. (AP) – The state of Michigan is being sued in a bid to restore the driver’s licenses of people who say they can’t afford to pay traffic fines.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court says the secretary of state is running a “wealth-based” scheme in which people too poor to pay fines are having their licenses suspended. The lawsuit says a traffic violation can cause a “downward spiral” of lost opportunities for jobs and education.

The lawsuit says the secretary of state doesn’t distinguish between people who are intentionally skipping fines and others who can’t pay. Kitia Harris, a 25-year-old Detroit woman, says her license was suspended when she couldn’t afford a $150 ticket in Ferndale.

The lawsuit was filed by Equal Justice Under Law, a civil rights group. An email seeking comment was sent to the secretary of state.

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