UNC law students help drivers get suspended licenses back


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Instead of vacationing, several law students are spending their spring break helping those in need.

Nine students with the pro bono clinic at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Law School are in New Hanover County to volunteer their time.

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Daniel Bowes, a Staff Attorney at the North Carolina Justice Center, said there is a state-wide problem with people having their driver’s licenses suspended for a long period of time because they can’t afford to pay off traffic tickets.

Bowes said in North Carolina after 100 days of not paying, you automatically lose your license until you do pay or have the debt waived by a judge.

The group worked with non-profit Leading Into New Communities, also known as LINC, to refer people to this program to help get their licenses back.

“We looked at their driving records, and if they had long term suspensions based on a failure to pay, and you know, sometimes it’s hundreds of dollars and basically saying you know ‘I would pay for that, but I would not be able to afford groceries, rent, that sort of stuff,'” Bowes said.

Bowes said there were about 75 referrals, and 16 drivers had their debts waived in New Hanover County on Wednesday.

“The students met with these clients on Monday, drew up the motions yesterday and we presented them to the judge today,” Bowes said. “And we’re lucky that several individuals were provided with relief and so some of those individuals will now be able to drive.”

The goal is to eventually have a state-wide model for this program.