Returning citizens need three crucial things to rebuild their lives after being released from incarceration: affordable housing, a job, and reliable transportation. The key to all this is a driver's license. But here's the thing - many states suspend driver's licenses when the driver has unpaid fines, fees, or court debt. Oftentimes the only form of ID returning citizens enter the world with is an inmate identification card, which doesn't cut it for housing or employment. Crucial documents like birth certificates are lost in the shuffle of incarceration, losing contact with relatives, and losing housing. Without a driver's license, searching for a job is very difficult (86% of Americans drive to work), so there's no income to pay off those debts. The longer fines and fees go unpaid, the larger the interest becomes - and a growing cycle of debt is created, which is almost impossible to overcome without support. 

THE SOLUTION: Spread The Vote's new Fund 4 Fines. 

With your support, we will be able to pay our clients' reinstatement fees, fines, and other unresolved debt so they can finally get their driver's licenses back and begin to rebuild their lives. Funds raised will go directly towards reinstating our clients' licenses.

Most of our clients have between $250 - $2,500 in outstanding fines. Here's an example of one of our client's fees from Detroit, Michigan:

Expired plates - $228

Improperly displayed plate - $180

Failure to display operator's license - $95

No insurance - $95

TOTAL - $598

If you can, please consider becoming a monthly donor to this important effort. With your help, we can build an ongoing fund to assist as many of our clients as possible!


Here at Spread The Vote, we help people get the ID's they need to access housing, employment, healthcare, voting, and more. We have the know-how to get driver's licenses to the people who need them most - our hard-working staff and volunteers have helped thousands of people through this process, obtaining birth certificates, marriage and divorce records, and navigating the bureaucracy of Social Security and state DMV's. We also help our clients figure out exactly how much they owe, and set up manageable payment plans or get some fines forgiven where possible. But we need your help to clear our clients' fines and fees so they can truly be free from the cycle of debt.  


Follow @SpreadTheVoteUS for updates on the campaign

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The Fines and Fees Justice Center studies legal debt policy across the country - learn about this issue by following @FinesandFeesJC 

Show your support for this campaign by endorsing it and sharing why!

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    “Without this fund I know a few client's who still wouldn't have their IDs. This Fund4Fines is changing lives. I love what I do because work like this is critical!”

February 25, 2022

An Update on Kelli's Case - Part 1

We were really hoping that with this update, we would be able to share some happy news about our client, Kelli, who we’ve been working with on her driver’s license restoration for almost a year. We want to share her story with you anyway, though, because while her case is complicated, it’s also a perfect illustration of how much this work matters.

We began working with Kelli on March 16th, 2021. Her driver’s license had been suspended for at least five years because of outstanding ticket debt. We immediately got to work figuring out a plan of action. In Michigan, where Kelli lives, tickets and other fees are issued by local district courts, and there is no centralized statewide database, so we began by searching for districts she had tickets in and how much those tickets were. During that first search, we discovered a balance of $349, which Kelli was able to cover with the help of a relative. We then made her an appointment with the Secretary of State’s office to get her “fact sheet” - these documents are supposed to show a full list of tickets and citations in all the state’s district courts.

Her fact sheet showed no balance, which was great news - we thought, could it really be this straightforward? But the very next day we checked another district court’s database and discovered an additional balance of almost $500, which wasn’t on the fact sheet. With a system this piecemeal, this unfortunately happens often. We also discovered that Kelli needed to make a court appearance before moving forward, which took a while to schedule due to pandemic-related court delays.

In the meantime, the state of Michigan passed the Clean Slate Law, which got rid of driver’s license suspensions for certain infractions. Everyone who had a suspended license was told to wait for a letter, which would tell them whether the law affected their cases. And so we waited, throughout the fall of 2021. During this time, Kelli remained hopeful - she even had a job lined up, but she couldn’t begin working until she got her license back. We also helped Kelli and our other clients navigate the complicated district-by-district fee system, by creating a guide to helping people search the court databases.

Stay tuned for our update next week on the rest of Kelli’s story!

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