A federal judge has approved an agreement designed to help North Carolina residents whose driver's licenses were revoked because they couldn't afford to pay traffic fines and court costs.

The class action lawsuit claimed the North Carolina DMV's practice of revoking driver's licenses for inability to pay was unconstitutional. At the center of this is how the state notifies people about the process and of their rights.

Under the agreement, the DMV will send notices to an estimated 185,000 people letting them know how to seek a judge's waiver of their traffic fees and court costs. Similar information will be sent in the future before revocations are complete. The DMV will also pay for the creation of an informational website that will include legal resources.

Aelya Salman is with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, one of the civil rights groups representing impacted motorists in the lawsuit.

“One major substantial win is obviously people no longer having to choose between having to provide for themselves or their families and paying these fees and being prevented from having their livelihoods,” says Salman.

In a statement, DMV officials say the recent settlement has the same conditions the state offered not long after the lawsuit was originally filed in 2018, but those were rejected by the plaintiffs.

U.S District Judge Thomas Schroeder wrote that while the motorists had not demonstrated a likelihood that the law was unconstitutional, the “increased notice provisions included in the settlement seek to provide additional procedural due process safeguards” so drivers plainly know they can retain their licenses.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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