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Driver’s License Suspension for Failure to Pay Court Fines

Last Updated On: 10/30/2020 6:48:23 PM

If your driver’s license may be suspended due to unpaid court costs and fines, what can you do?

Driver’s licenses can be suspended for many reasons, like failure to have insurance or driving under the influence. Another reason is for failing to pay fines and costs assessed by a court (maybe for a traffic ticket). This information ONLY applies to situations where a driver’s license is suspended for failure to pay court fines and costs in West Virginia.

As of July 1, 2020, a new law helps to eliminate driver’s license suspensions due to unpaid court costs and fines. This new law allows you to set up a payment plan so you can continue to have a valid driver’s license, while you are making payments. Because this is a new law, we don’t have all the answers about how this will work in all situations. We will update this article as we learn more. Basically, this law means that if you currently have court costs and fines that you are unable to pay, or if you had your license suspended for unpaid court costs and fines before July 1, 2020, you may be able to request a payment plan to reinstate your license. 

Again, this new law does NOT apply to driver’s licenses that are suspended for failure to appear or respond, failure to have insurance, driving under the influence, truancy violations, or any other reason. 

How much time do I have to enroll in a payment plan?

You have 180 days to enroll in a payment plan after the court determines your court costs and fines. If you are incarcerated, you have 180 days after you are released to enroll in a payment plan.

As of right now, if your driver’s license was already suspended for failure to pay court costs and fees BEFORE July 1, 2020, when this new law started, you can still enroll in a payment plan even if it has been longer than 180 days since a court determined your costs and fines. After so long, the law allows courts to send these cases to collection agencies. It is possible once your case has been turned over to a collection agency, you may have to pay them, rather than the court to resolve the debt. At this point we don’t know how long you will be able to pay these fees and fines at the court.  

What if I do not enroll in a payment plan and fail to pay my court costs and fines in full?

The Clerk’s office can apply late fees, record judgments, and begin debt collection against you if you do not enter a payment plan within 180 days and fail to pay your court costs and fines in full. Your driver’s license should no longer be suspended, however, for failure to pay court fees and fines.

How do I find out if my driver’s license is suspended due to unpaid court costs and fines?

To find out if your driver’s license is suspended due to unpaid court costs and fines, you first need to contact the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You can contact the DMV by calling (304) 558-3900 or 1-800-642-9066. You can also check the status of your West Virginia driver’s license by visiting the DMV’s website at https://apps.wv.gov/DMV/SelfService/DrivingRecordThe DMV will be able to tell you why your driver’s license is suspended. 

To get all of the information you may need, you may want to request a copy of your Driving Record. This can help you figure out what courts to contact and what fees you owe to the DMV.  You will want to make sure that the DMV Driving Record is accurate.  

How do I apply for a payment plan?

If your driver’s license is suspended solely due to unpaid court costs and fines, you will be able to apply for a payment plan to help you reinstate your license.

First, contact the DMV and ask for your suspension’s identification number.

Then, contact the Clerk’s office at your County Courthouse and ask to set up a payment plan. The Clerk’s office will need your suspension’s identification number to look up your suspension.

You will then need to fill out an affidavit stating that you are unable to pay all your court costs and fines at one time. This is the affidavit form you will need to fill out.

After that, the Clerk’s office will determine if you qualify for a payment plan.  

How do I set up a payment plan if I qualify? 

If you qualify for a payment plan, you must pay a $25.00 fee to set it up. You can pay the $25.00 fee in one single payment, or you can pay it over five months at $5.00 per month.

After you pay the fee, the Clerk’s office will give you a verification of enrollment form to send to the DMV. You can then apply at the DMV to reinstate your license. The DMV will reduce or waive your license reinstatement fee if you give them your verification of enrollment form.  

What will my payment plan include? 

Your payment plan will include: 

  • the number of payments due, 
  • the due date of each payment, 
  • and the amount of each payment. 

It will also include the types of payment the Clerk’s office accepts (i.e. cash, check, credit card).  

How much will my monthly payment be after my payment plan is set up? 

The amount of your monthly payment will depend on how much you owe in court costs and fines. The amount owed each month will either be 2% of your annual net income divided by 12, or $10.00, whichever is greater.  

What happens if I make a late payment? 

If you make a late payment, the Clerk’s office may send notices, electronically or by mail, to remind you of your missed payment. For every 30 days your payment is late, the Clerk’s office can charge you a late fee. If your payment is 90 days late, the Clerk’s office can record a judgement lien against you or send your bill to a collection agency. A judgement lien is when a creditor may take your real or personal property to fulfill your payment obligation.  

Can I still drive if I have a suspended driver’s license?  

If your license is suspended and you are caught driving, you will have to pay additional fines and fees. If you are caught driving on a suspended license more than once, the DMV may apply a period of time where you cannot drive even after all of your reinstatement fees are paid. Please do not drive with a suspended license!  

Summary of Steps  

1. You have 180 days to enroll in a payment plan after the court determines your court costs and fees. However, for now, even if it has been longer than 180 days, you can still enroll in a payment plan if your license was suspended prior to July 1, 2020 (when the new law started) for failure to pay court fees and fines. 

2. Check with the DMV about the status of your suspended license, get your suspension number. 

3. Contact your county Clerk’s office to set up a payment plan. Fill out the forms. 

4. If approved, make the payments. 

5. Do not drive with a suspended license.

This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.