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!”

July 25, 2022

Kelli’s Case, Part 3 - A HAPPY ENDING!

THE DAY IS HERE! The Fund 4 Fines team has been looking forward to sharing this update with you all for months now. We are so so pleased to tell you that, 16 months after we first began working with her, KELLI HAS HER LICENSE BACK. So how did we get here? Kelli’s persistence, together with your generous support, allowed us to overcome the many obstacles involved. 

Our last update on Kelli ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. We thought we had reached the finish line, but at the last minute we discovered that two incorrect citations had popped up on her record, preventing her from being cleared to drive again. Those citations were removed in February, but we had to wait until late March for another hearing, where a judge finally restored her driving privileges.

We scheduled a DMV appointment for early April, and were ready to pay her reinstatement fees to get Kelli back on the road. But yet another bureaucratic hurdle was placed before us when we arrived at that appointment. We were told that despite clearing all past citations and completing the hearings process, the court still hadn’t removed the hold on Kelli’s account. Unfortunately there was nothing the DMV could do about this - we were told she needed to go back to court and get a paper clearance, then return to pay her reinstatement fee. But when we got to the court as instructed, we were told the court didn’t issue paper clearances. 

(If you’re thinking “this is a mess!” well then…yes. We agree.)

The court was supposed to send an electronic clearance to the DMV so Kelli’s reinstatement could proceed, but because of yet another clerical error - an incorrect birthdate on the citation - that electronic clearance was delayed. A helpful court employee wrote out some instructions for Kelli on how to proceed, but she still had to wait until May to try again.

In May we went back to the DMV, and the Fund 4 Fines covered Kelli’s reinstatement fee. But there was one last obstacle to come. The DMV told us that the court had scheduled her license to be suspended again at the end of June, for a citation that we knew for a fact we had already resolved! Thankfully, the DMV allowed her to proceed with the licensing process in the meantime. Kelli took the written exam and left with her permit, while we got to work figuring out what this new suspension was all about. After some back-and-forth with the court, we discovered that the court had failed to submit a form called a “deletion of conviction” to the state, which would have deleted this issue from Kelli’s DMV record. 

The court submitted the form, and a few days later we called the DMV to see whether Kelli was in the clear - AND SHE WAS. She scheduled her road test and passed it with flying colors on June 8th. And finally, on June 23rd, she received her license in the mail. Kelli is free to drive.

Your generous contributions make this work possible. If you’re inspired by this story (or infuriated by how onerous this process is), we’d be so grateful if you shared our CrowdPac with a couple friends! With your help, we can get our other clients over the finish line.

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