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Study: License suspensions 4x more likely for Black drivers

The statewide suspension rate of Black or African American drivers is four times higher than that of white, non-Hispanic drivers, according to an analysis published by the North Carolina Pro Bono Project.

The NCPBRC created “When Debt Takes the Wheel,” a story map project that shows racial disparities in North Carolina driver’s license suspensions by county. It argues that suspending drivers’ licenses for unpaid traffic court fines and fees is unjust and counterproductive.

More than 250,000 North Carolinians have a license suspension because they cannot afford to pay their court fees and fines, the analysis found. Although almost every county had some degree of racial disparity in suspension rates, counties varied significantly—in some cases suspension rates for Black drivers were up to 14 times higher. Overall suspension rates varied significantly from county to county as well.

The NCPBRC has also created a new website,, through which drivers can get pro bono help with driver’s license restoration. People in three counties can now see whether they qualify for mass debt remittance by visiting the website, with 10 more counties to be added this fall.

Staff reports

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