Suspended Driver’s Licenses Snare New York’s Poorest Citizens

Since the 1990s, New York State legislators have increased criminal penalties for driving without a license, while expanding the number of ways the state can suspend drivers’ licenses and impose the fees that go along with them.

For many low-income New Yorkers, it sets off a crushing cycle of debt.

From 2014 to 2017, Buffalo police charged more than 14,000 drivers with driving with a suspended license. Add the rest of Erie County, where Buffalo is situated, and that climbs to almost 33,000—a number that State Assemblymember Patrick Burke, who represents a western New York constituency, calls “staggering.”