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UPDATE: City lowers fines for those driving with suspended licenses

Posted at 5:27 PM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 15:28:25-05

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Have you ever not paid for a parking ticket and had your license suspended because of it?

Well, there's a growing movement in Michigan to roll back fines and penalties for people caught driving on a suspended license.

Tuesday night in East Lansing, that's just what they did.

East Lansing's city council agreed on reducing fines for people driving on a license that was suspended for unpaid speeding or parking tickets, effective immediately.

The general idea is that the policy doesn't do society any good when people have a hard time getting to work or school.

"This is a situation of how are we going to serve our people," said East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Aaron Stephens. "Some people are put in a situation where they are forced to do so. Some people don't even know they have those parking tickets."

Perry Kaguni works in East Lansing and he agrees something needs to be done.

"Its really difficult to find parking, affordable parking, parking that meshes with our actual budget," said Kaguni.

Mayor Pro Tem Stephens said he doesn't want to penalize people for driving to work.

"Somebody might not know or might not be able to afford to get their license unsuspended," Stephens said. "Then we are tacking on another $500 fee and the possibility of a misdemeanor."

Several other communities around the state are reducing fines for suspended licenses.

Stephens wants East Lansing to cut its fines even more than proposed.

"If we don't, I'm fine with us lowering the fees as long as something gets done. The truth is if other jurisdictions are doing it, it means it works," he said.

Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon told News 10 she believes the criminal justice system needs a new approach to this issue.

She said her office is talking with other agencies to change policies.

Stephens said he feels this move is the right thing to do.

"We should be making sure the rules in place are ones that cater towards helping people rather than farther putting them in a burden," Stephens added.

The changes are only for drivers who's license is suspended for unpaid tickets, not other offenses like DUIs.

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