New project could restore up to 3,200 driver’s licenses in Pitt County

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PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT) An initiative in Pitt County is striving for is racial and economic justice through the restoration of a driver’s license

This project impacts around 3,200 people who have their driver’s license suspended due to unpaid court fees and fines.

The program would remove a major barrier impacting African-Americans in Pitt County.

According to the North Carolina Judicial Branch, 72% of people whose licenses are suspended for failure to pay are Black.

This, despite the Census reporting African-Americans make up just 36% of the Pitt County population.

Pitt County’s district attorney tells 9 On Your Side that this problem particularly impacts those who are low income, face financial hardship, live in rural areas, and lack reliable transportation.

“In order to get to school, take care of children, oftentimes you have to have transportation of some type, you have to have a driver’s license. So it’s our effort to get people back into the workforce. Particularly now in this time with COVID-19, it’s important for those who can work to be able to get to work,” said Faris Dixon, Pitt County District Attorney.

This program, which is a collaboration with the NC Pro Bono Resource Center, is for long-term license suspensions caused by unpaid fines, fees for minor traffic offenses in Pitt County.

Dixon states the goal of this project is limited contact with the justice system.

“My hope is that you only have one. What we are trying to do is get those people who come to the justice system to go back out to the community to be productive citizens. In general, what we are trying to do is reduce recidivism,” said Dixon.

Licenses that were suspended for more serious traffic offenses, such as a DWI are not eligible for the program.

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