court fees

gavel at courtroom
William Johnson / US Airforce Photo

A new law that took effect last week makes it more difficult for judges to waive fines and fees for people who cannot afford to pay them. Now a judge must issue a 15-day notice to all agencies involved before granting  a waiver. Critics argue this will cause a logistical backlog for the courts and ultimately result in more low-income people going to jail. Proponents say the courts rely on these fees, and the new law will help generate revenue. This law was not directly sponsored by any member of the General Assembly, so it is difficult to distinguish its political supporters.

Sample North Carolina driver's licenses.
NC Division of Motor Vehicles

A report from the left-leaning Legal Aid Justice Center says almost 1.2 million North Carolinians currently have their driver’s licenses suspended or revoked because they either failed to appear in court or failed to pay court fees. Of those, about 436,000 were for failure to pay, according to the NC Division of Motor Vehicles.