ETI Publications

Document Type

Technical Paper

Publication Date



Thousands of adults in Milwaukee County have suspensions placed on their driver’s licenses solely for not paying fines and civil forfeitures. Younger teens may be issued license suspensions for failure to pay fines and civil forfeitures even though they have never had a driver’s license. Many teens and adults with suspensions continue to drive with or without a valid license. For this report the driver license status of all Milwaukee County residents was reviewed using state Department of Transportation records on driver’s license status, licenses suspension and revocation records for 2008-2011 in order to assess the driver status facing workers seeking employment or attempting to retain employment. The focus of this analysis is the policy of suspending licenses for non-payment of fines and civil forfeitures for individuals who otherwise have no unsafe driving suspensions or in some cases are yet to obtain a license. Most (82%) of those receiving failure-to-pay suspensions were minorities and 65% were African Americans. Residents with FTF suspensions are heavily concentrated in Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods while residents receiving unsafe driving-related suspensions such as OWI (operating while intoxicated) show more even distributions across middle income neighborhoods of the county.