Tennessee residents with unpaid court fees may find themselves without a driver's license July 1 when a new law takes effect allowing the state to suspend debtors' driving privileges, The Tennessean reports. Criminal court clerks have struggled for years to collect hundreds of millions of dollars owed to taxpayers. In Davidson County, taxpayers are due more than $300 million in unpaid costs. Now the state will have the authority to suspend driver's licenses of those who have ignored their debts for a year or longer.
Defense attorneys and some court clerks worry the new law could overburden people who already have trouble paying. “I see and understand the idea to make an effort to collect fees that are due. But we're also coming slowly out of some of the most difficult economic times we've seen in generations,” said Jeff Henry of the Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference. “And folks don't have all the income they would like to have.”