SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— One in six California drivers has had their license suspended because they failed to pay fines on traffic violations. That’s 4.2 million people. A new study shows how escalating fines and penalties are driving poor people further into poverty.

The study by a number of legal aid firms looked at the traffic court fines that get piled on and found it’s another trap the poor and working class can’t get out of. As a result the uncollected debt is $10 billion.

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The cycle includes a loss of license because they can’t pay their fines, then they lose their jobs, which exacerbates the inability to make good on the fines.

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“There are many licenses, which have been suspended now for 10 or more years. People have just given up and they don’t know that after five years they legally can get their license back, because the Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t tell them that,” said Mike Herald from the Western Center for Law and Poverty. He’s also one of the study’s authors.

“So, literally we have people’s suspensions now that go back a decade or more,” he said.

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He concluded that the study proves suspending people’s licenses doesn’t work in getting people to pay their fines.