Having your driving privileges revoked can obviously lead to financial stress. In most parts of Washington State individuals and families are reliant on their cars for relatively affordable transportation to work, the grocery store, doctors visits, etc…
Imagine a scenario where a single parent is desperate to get to the office to clock in. If he or she doesn’t arrive in time, they could be terminated for being late. They go over the speed limit hoping to make it in but get pulled over for going 35 in a 25 and for having a broken tail light. Now they have another bill to pay. Bills upon bills. Bills for their son’s doctors appointments, electricity, cell phone, water, garbage, car payment, rent, storage unit, day care and more. They forget to pay, they don’t contest the ticket, life is hectic. They get another ticket. Now they have two tickets with one in collections. The collections company threatens to have their license suspended if they cannot pay everything that is due, or at least a large down payment followed by installments. And then, their license gets suspended. They keep driving because if they don’t, they can’t get to work and daycare. They get another ticket, this time for driving with a suspended license. Driving while your license is suspended can lead to tickets exceeding $1,000. They now have little hope of getting out of this situation with an affordable payment plan through the collection company. So, what are their solutions?
In a chapter 13 bankruptcy, so long as each and every ticket that is holding up their license is listed, they can get their license back for less money, and in 10 days. Sometimes sooner. The act of filing the bankruptcy is enough to unsuspend the license so long as their attorney get all of the required paperwork over to the department of licensing. The chapter 13 costs money in two ways. First you have to pay the attorney’s fee and filing fee. The attorney’s fee is generally set by the court, but the amount that you pay upfront is negotiable with the attorney. Once the case is filed and the case information is sent to the DOL, and the collections agencies, the chapter 13 payment plans begin 30 days after filing. The amount that such a person has to pay back on their tickets depends on their income, their assets, and the type of tickets that they have. For someone like the person in the scenario above, her income is low, so she will likely only end up paying on tickets and attorneys fees. The amount paid on the tickets will arguably be limited to the amount of the criminal traffic fines. This person would only be responsible for paying the criminal component of the ticket for driving without a license. This results in a huge savings, and a payment plan significantly less than she could get from the collection agency.
Sometimes your license can also be suspended for traffic accidents where you were underinsured or uninsured. In these cases, if that is the only thing that is holding up the license, a chapter 7 bankruptcy can be sufficient to restore a driver’s license.
If your license has been affected by non-payment of traffic tickets, and the collection companies are asking for more than you can afford, please contact a bankruptcy attorney for a consultation. Our office offers a free consultation if you are filing in the Western District of Washington (Seattle Division).
Best of Luck,