The Effects of Losing a License on Individual and Family Well-Being in Durham

October 19, 2023

Anna and team.
Team members in front of their poster at the Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase in April 2023 (Photo: Courtesy of Adrienne Jones and Warren Lowell)

In Durham County, around 46,000 people have had their driver’s license suspended or revoked. Many of these people lost their driving privileges because they failed to appear in court or were unable to pay the fines and fees associated with tickets.

Even for minor traffic violations, the consequences can be major and long-lasting. The median length of suspension is nearly 12 years.

The Examining Racial Inequality and Reform Through Driver's License Access team cleaned, coded and synthesized data from more than 40 interviews that the previous year’s team had conducted with city officials and individuals who had lost their licenses, and organized a new round of interviews. The team’s work illuminated the widespread effects that losing a license has on the wellbeing of individuals and their families.

Next, to share their findings, team members prepared a paper for a peer-reviewed journal and made recommendations to the city for improving the Durham Expunction & Restoration (DEAR) program.

“We couldn’t do this work if the folks in our community weren’t so kind as to offer us their time and their expertise about their own lived experience. We are trying to be mindful about centering them and their voices in the work that we’re creating, and also thinking critically about ways that we can share back and involve community members, not to be extractive but also, ‘Here is what we learned. How does this resonate with you all? Does this accurately reflect your experiences?’” –Adrienne Jones, Ph.D. Student in Public Policy and Sociology

Check out this team’s profile in our Virtual Showcase; read reflections from Adrienne JonesWarren Lowell and Mary Lauren Veazey about their work with the team; learn how undergraduate Katherine LoBue built on this team's research for her senior thesis; and explore more 2022-2023 team outcomes in the Bass Connections Annual Report!

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