New law could help thousands qualify for Alabama hardship driver’s license

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The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency has begun accepting applications to restore limited driving privileges to thousands who lost their licenses due to issues not related to safety thanks to a new law that just went into effect. Senate Bill 55, which passed during the 2018 session was sponsored by Senator Clyde Chambless and signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey, and will allow applicants will be able to apply for a “hardship license.”

According to a Fact Sheet in support of the bill created by Alabama ARISE, “This bill would allow people who need to take their children to school, go to the doctor, or help family members see a doctor to do so without breaking the law. SB 55 is a reasonable, common-sense response to a problem that hurts thousands of Alabamians every year.”

“We’re certain this could help tens of thousands of people,” Dev Wakeley, a policy analyst for ARISE told the Montgomery Advertiser, “This is a huge step that will help so many people.”

According to the application, which is available on the ALEA website, the following information is required for consideration:

  • List of anticipated places applicant will travel (work, home, church, etc.) and address of each Documentation for all anticipated routes applicant will travel (using Google Maps, MapQuest, etc.) 
  • List of anticipated times of travel (in relation to work shifts, religious ceremony times, etc.) 
  • List and description of all specific vehicles applicant may use (including the Owner, if not Applicant, Make, Model, Tag No.); PROOF OF MANDATORY LIABILITY INSURANCE SHALL BE PROVIDED FOR EACH VEHICLE

Supporters said that the law was needed because suspensions disproportionately burdened the poor. Callie Greer, a community activist in Selma, told the Advertiser,  “You could never pay your way out of the situation. It was a no-win situation. It’s like they’re throwing dirt on you while you’re trying to climb out of this hole.”

Previously, hardship licenses were only available to people on work release or with administrative supervision, according to a report by WSFA.