DOJ sides against Virginia DMV over license suspension practice

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice is siding with a lawsuit challenging Virginia's practice of suspending the driver's licenses of people who can't pay court costs and fines.

Media outlets report a team of DOJ civil rights lawyers filed a brief last week supporting the class-action lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, saying the practice violates the U.S. Constitution's due process guarantee.

The Legal Aid Justice Center filed the lawsuit in July on behalf of low-income drivers who lost their license for failing to pay court debts. The suit said the state's failure to take into account people's financial circumstances unfairly punishes the poor.

The center says nearly 1 million Virginians have their licenses suspended because of unpaid court costs or fines.

Virginia's attorney general wasn't immediately available for comment.