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State appeals order stopping license suspensions

A Michigan State Police file photo.
Michigan State Police

The state is appealing a federal court order that says it cannot suspend the driver’s licenses of people who don’t pay traffic fines.

The Michigan Secretary of State says it’s not possible to comply with the decision.

A federal judge ruled earlier this month the state is unconstitutionally suspending licenses of people who cannot afford to pay fines imposed by a court. Judge Linda Parker last week declined to stay that order while the state appeals.

The state says complying would take months of re-programming computer systems and connecting with more than 100 local courts. The challenge filed with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals also says courts offer people options, including payment plans, that would allow them to keep their licenses. The state also says the order by federal Judge Parker is both vague and overly broad.

Judge Parker's orderwas not retroactive, so drivers who've already had their licenses suspended would have to seek relief through other avenues.

The state says the ruling would allow more than 350,000 drivers to challenge their fines, but the judge gave no guidance on how the state should determine whether someone can’t pay their fines, or simply won’t.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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