Over 10,000 residents— mostly in low-income neighborhoods – have suspended licenses
City agencies are joining together to conduct outreach to the city’s most vulnerable unemployed and underemployed residents to implement a program signed into law by Governor Brown, whereby individuals with suspended driver’s licenses can have them reinstated immediately, and reduce debt associated with court orders.
The program, which ends March 31, provides low-income San Franciscans an opportunity to relieve debt and lift one of the most intractable barriers to employment.
“Suspended driver’s licenses disproportionally impacts communities of color and low income individuals. In San Francisco, we want to ensure through this program, that every resident effected has access to this Amnesty program and to has equal access to job opportunities—leading to a pathway out of poverty,” said Todd Rufo, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and the Financial Justice Project, an initiative of the Treasurer’s Office, launched a multi-lingual Public Service Announcement and outreach campaign to increase the number of San Francisco residents who apply for the Amnesty program before the deadline.
“Driver’s license amnesty is a critical opportunity for people to get out of debt and back on the road,” said José Cisneros, treasurer of the City and County of San Francisco. “As the Governor indicated in his budget, suspending licenses for failures to appear in court or pay a fine doesn’t improve public safety and it harms poor people.”
Most driver’s license holds in California originate from either a failure to appear in court (FTA) or a failure to pay court-ordered fines (FTP) infraction. In the three year period ending in March 2015, more than 10,000 San Francisco drivers received over 15,500 holds for FTAs alone according to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
These drivers are disproportionately represented in the City’s lower-income neighborhoods including in the Bayview Hunters Point, Treasure Island, and the Tenderloin. The San Francisco Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights has noted an above-average suspension rate across the State in zip codes with 20% or more African American residents.
In addition to the official web link on the Amnesty Program on the San Francisco Superior Court’s web site, the city also launched a web page about the program, and 311 will provide information to callers in multiple languages.