State Senator Shirley Turner sees a big problem with Motor Vehicle Commission surcharges eating people alive. A $68 ticket can become a $368 problem with 3 years of surcharges at $100 each. We took calls on her legislation to stop the practice from people who had been hit with surcharges, in some cases blindsided by them. One caller spoke of $800 per year surcharges over an expired insurance card. Turner's main point is the system sets you up to fail and preys disproportionately on the poor. Once you get behind that financial 8 ball and can't pay one of your surcharges, they suspend your license again and add even more surcharges until it's a hole you can't climb out of.

Her senate bill, S1080, addresses this and along with it recognizes that people will never be able to pay surcharges if they can't get to work, and they can't get to work by having their driver licenses constantly suspended. It would allow a restricted license in many suspension cases that would let you drive only to work and back, medical appointments, necessary child care drop-offs, etc. In other words, only driving to the bare necessities. Nothing you don't absolutely have to do.

My license was only suspended once, when I was 17. It was supposed to be a 30 day suspension but because of a screw up in Trenton where they claimed they never got my restoration fee (even though I had a cancelled check) it ended up taking 2 months to get my license back. In that time I dealt with the inconvenience. I went through the humiliation of groveling with co-workers for rides. I never once drove while suspended.

Then again, it was a short suspension, and I was young without responsibilities. I didn't have a career. I didn't have children relying on me. I honestly don't know what I would have done had my situation been different. So while I feel like there needs to be repercussions for bad decisions like driving without insurance or reckless accumulation of points, I don't want to judge too harshly. Each story is unique. Yet overall I feel like restricted licenses aren't a true punishment.

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