September 22, 2022

So Many Roadblocks: California’s Program Fees System Traps Low-Income Drivers

Many Californians drive to get to work, care for their families, and to do everyday activities. But people across the state are unable to drive legally because they cannot afford the expensive fees to reinstate a suspended license.  

California law automatically suspends the driver’s licenses of people convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) and requires completion of a state-licensed alcohol and drug education program to reinstate a license.    

A new report by the ACLU SoCal, “So Many Roadblocks: How California’s Program Fees System Traps Low-Income Drivers," investigates and uncovers predatory and illegal practices in 45 of the 55 licensed DUI programs in Los Angeles County. Such practices leave many Californians’ licenses suspended for years due to their lack of financial means. 

We are urging lawmakers to make alcohol and education programs publicly funded services and remove indefinite license-reinstatement barriers that do not serve public safety. 

Read the full report

The report finds that: 

  • Program costs are not transparent, predatory, and too high for Californians. Fees can range from $400 to over $3,000. 
  • Programs exploit and profit off low-income people, people of color, unhoused and undocumented people. 
  • Private, non-profit, and government-run DUI programs routinely violate state regulations meant to protect low-income people. 

Driving shouldn’t be for the privileged who can afford program costs and predatory fees. Low-income Californians need access to programs to pursue economic opportunities and move forward with their lives. 

Read the full report