Driver’s License Suspension Policy in North Carolina

There are 1,225,000 active driver’s license suspensions in North Carolina for non-driving related reasons, including failure to pay traffic fines and court courts, and failure to appear in court for traffic offenses. These suspensions constitute about 15 percent of all adult drivers in the state. This report analyzed those suspensions and found disproportionate suspensions among minority drivers and in counties with a higher percentage of people in poverty.

Suspensions are disproportionately imposed on minority residents.

Between 2010 and 2017, of North Carolina’s total driving age population,

  • 65% were white,
  • 21% were black, and
  • 8% were Latinx.

N.C. Total Driving Age Population Graph

However, of those who have had their driver’s licenses suspended for non-payment
of fines and fees,

  • 47% were black,
  • 37% were white, and
  • 11% were Latinx.

Suspensions for Non-Payment Graph

Of those who had their driver’s licenses suspended over failure to appear,

  • 33% were black,
  • 24% were Latinx, and
  • 35% were white.

Of those who had their driver’s licenses suspended over failure to comply,

  • 47% were black,
  • 11% were Latinx, and
  • 37% were white.

The more serious charge of driving with license revoked (DWLR) also falls disproportionately on minority residents.

Among those charged with DWLR from 2013-2017,

  • 39% were white,
  • 54% were black, and
  • 7% were Latinx.

Of the license suspensions:

  • 827,000 are for failure to appear in court;
    263,000 for failure to comply with orders to pay traffic costs, fines and fees; and
    135,000 for both.


Source: Garrett, Brandon L. and Crozier, William, “Driver’s License Suspension in North Carolina” (March 19, 2019). Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2019-27