Join in WNC Driver’s License Restoration efforts – Free CLE

Pisgah Legal Services is working to address the Driver’s License Suspension crisis in our region and invites local attorneys to join us in helping our neighbors who are most affected by this crisis.

Driver’s License Suspension Crisis: In 2018 more than 1,225,000 across our state with active driver’s license suspensions for failure to pay traffic fines and court costs. These suspensions constitute about 15% of all adult drivers in the state. Since 1995 there has been a 260% increase in the General Court of Justice Fee (District). Many of our lower-income neighbors cannot pay fines and fees and, therefore, go without a driver’s license for years.

 Impact of Driver’s License Suspension: A driver’s license suspension can lead to job loss, barriers to medical services, high transportation costs and long commute times, and criminal-justice involvement. According to the Administrative Office of the Courts, when a traffic court debt is not paid within a year, it is not likely to ever be paid.  The average length of a license suspension for failure to pay in NC is more than 8 ½ years.

Catastrophic Racial Disparities: Households of color are disproportionately impacted by traffic debt and long-term suspensions disproportionately affect people of color. Statewide Black or African-American drivers had active suspensions for unpaid courts costs and fines at a rate 4 times higher than white, non-Hispanic drivers. In Buncombe County the rate is 5 times higher for Black drivers.

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Providing Relief – Restoring Driver’s Licenses: Pisgah Legal Services is launching a Driver’s License Restoration (DLR) Project in Western North Carolina. We need your help to restore our neighbors’ driver’s licenses through legal advice and representation.

FREE CLE: Pisgah Legal is hosting a free Driver’s License Restoration CLE for volunteer attorneys on Friday, January 21st, 11am to 1pm on Zoom. The CLE will provide an overview of the license suspension crisis in NC and pro bono models of driver’s license restoration, including legal clinics and individual representation and mass relief debt remittance. In this CLE we will train volunteers to review driver’s DMV records and advise them on their options. The training will also provide background for representing individuals to restore their license. This CLE is free for volunteer attorneys and $50 for others. Presenters include: PLS Staff Attorney Ed Treat, Restorative Justice Director at the NC Pro Bono Resource Center Leigh Wicclair and Attorney Blake Marcus, Managing Partner at Minnick Law in Asheville. CLE credit approval from the NC Bar is pending.


Following the CLE Pisgah Legal Services will assign two initial DLR advice cases to each interested volunteer attorney. PLS staff attorney Ed Treat will support volunteers to review DMV records and write advice letters for their clients. Volunteers will then meet with their clients via phone, Zoom or in person to review the advice letter. This is a good introduction to a high impact legal service that can help make our region a safer and more equitable place for all. Advice for individuals with suspended licenses makes a difference.

 REGISTER HERE Driver’s License Restoration CLE. After the CLE you can decide if you’d like to assist pro bono clients in our initial advice clinic.

About Evie White

Pisgah Legal Services is an innovative nonprofit law firm founded in 1978 that: provides free civil legal aid to people who live in poverty; helps more than 15,000 of the most vulnerable people in our communities annually to meet urgent needs such as: housing, safety from abuse, health care and income; partners with dozens of other agencies to make sustainable change for people in crisis; coordinates the services of more than 300 pro bono attorneys in WNC; improves systems and policies that impact the lives of thousands of low-income people.