Program offers help for Shelby County residents with a suspended license

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than 155,000 people in Shelby County are driving with a suspended license.

That number is from the DMV.

The big issue for many people is they can’t afford to pay their traffic fines.

FOX13 reported about the problem a month ago when we spoke with Willie Spates, who owes nearly $8,000 in fines.

RELATED: FOX13 Investigates: Could you be too poor to drive?

You can get help paying those fines and fees.

At Shelby County General Sessions Court, Community and Legislative Affairs Coordinator Lawrence Johnson makes it easier for struggling drivers to pay their fees through the Drive While You Pay program.

Drive While You Pay is similar to paying off a credit card. Johnson, who heads the program at 201 Poplar, says right now, more than $24 million is owed in unpaid cases.

“Sometimes, it is hard. Life situations, bills, I got kids and stuff like that, so it might take a little time to get around to pay on it,” Jordan Carapine told FOX13.

Carapine is not driving because of a suspended license. He still owes $1,200 in traffic tickets he accumulated over the years.

“So paying it off, $1,200 ain’t something I can just come out of right then and there,” he said.

“It’s our goal to be able to help those people who have those offenses to be able to continue not to have that chance to be incarcerated, to be able to go to work, school and take care of their livelihood,” said Johnson.

The program lets people driving with a suspended license start a payment plan to restore their license.

Carapine knows how hard it is for people to catch up on the money they owe. He has four children, including a newborn, and can’t imagine what it’s like to owe more money.

“Sometimes you can’t get around to paying it, may not have the extra cash to pay that ticket off, and after prolonging it, it adds up,” said Carapine

“There is success. There is something to be able to move down the road; you just have to begin the process and start the process and believe you can do so,” said Johnson.

You can take advantage of the program by coming to 201 Poplar.

You must show up in person.

Other programs like the amnesty program offer a reduced rate in traffic fines, but that’s only from the end of June until December.

To learn more about the Driver’s Assistance Program, call 901-222-3569.

The Driver’s License Reinstatement Center number is 901-367-3639.