Failure of Fine Collection Law Blows Hole in Safety Budget

State lawmakers thought a 2011 bill allowing revocation of driver’s licenses for deadbeats who failed to pay criminal fines and court costs would reap millions in reinstatement fees, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
But seven months into the first year of operation, only nine counties are complying and the state has collected just $22,425. The shortfall has left a gaping hole in the department’s budget, Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said last week.
“The department is requesting $7.6 million in supplemental funding for the current fiscal year in order to correct the overestimate of driver’s license reinstatement fees,” Gibbons told Senate Transportation Committee members.
The law requires county court clerks to notify the state of scofflaws who’ve gone at least a year without paying anything toward fines and costs. The department then revokes their licenses until they start to pay up.
Tennessee charges $65 for each license reinstatement plus an additional fee for the license.
Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk Gwen Tidwell is among those participating. So are clerks in the three other largest counties — Davidson, Knox and Shelby.
A number of counties are “working on methods to provide notices electronically” to the state, Gibbons said.

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