In Florida, one potential punishment courts can impose for falling behind on child support payments is to suspend the parent's driver's license. The purpose of the suspension is to motivate the parent to catch up on payments. However, some critics believe that taking away delinquent parents' ability to drive is counterproductive. For many parents, their ability to work and earn money depends on their ability to drive to their job. Taking away their license will only make it less likely that they will pay child support, some people say.
A new program in Shelby County, Tennessee, is trying to encourage delinquent parents to renew at least some of their child support by helping them to regain their driver's licenses. The program is called Project Drive, and will allow parents to drive legally again in exchange for paying $100 per month in child support.
The county, which includes the city of Memphis, currently has 65,000 cases of parents who owe child support, according to the county's Child Support Services. The program was the idea of the county child support administrator, who wanted an affordable way for delinquent parents to drive again so they can work and earn money for their children.
In an article in the Tri-State Defender, a Memphis court clerk who was one of the driving forces behind the program said that reinstating the licenses will help the parents, many of whom are unemployed, look for work so they can meet their obligations.
Project Drive is part of the local Drive While You Pay program, which offers similar payment plans for people who have lost their license due to unpaid fines or other reasons. The new program will begin taking applicants on April 18.
Source: The Tri-State Defender, "Drive While You Pay program to include child support cases," Tony Jones, April 14, 2011