Justice Reform Efforts and Effects on Self-sufficiency (2021-2022)

How does driver's license suspension and reinstatement affect life outcomes for Durham residents?

Millions of people have had their licenses suspended for failure-to-pay fines from traffic citations. Without a valid driver’s license, individuals lack legal transportation that allows them to get to jobs and attend to other family needs. By disrupting employment, revoking the licenses of those who cannot pay court fees can further disrupt their ability to pay, creating a vicious cycle and preventing self-sufficiency. 

To better understand the impact of license suspension and reinstatement, this project evaluated the Durham Expunction and Restoration (DEAR) program. Through interviews with program participants and professionals, the team found that very few community members have had their licenses restored. Confusion, poor communication, and administrative barriers often prevent license restoration. In light of this discovery, the team offers policy recommendations to improve outcomes for the residents of Durham – especially the most vulnerable.

Learn more about this project team by viewing the team's video.


Summer 2021 – Summer 2022 

Team Outputs

Driver’s License Suspension and Restoration in Durham (2022 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Driver's License Suspension and Self-Sufficiency (poster by Anna Gassman-Pines, Clinton Boyd Jr., Adrienne Jones, Warren Lowell, James McIntyre III, Jada Purkett, Richard Qi and Katherine LoBue, presented at Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 13, 2022)

This Team in the News

Driving Durham Forward: Assessment and Progress in Justice Reform

Faculty Perspectives: Anna Gassman-Pines

Master's Student Honored for Her Outstanding Mentorship

Senior Spotlight: Reflections from the Class of 2023

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See related team, Examining Racial Inequality and Reform Through Driver's License Access (2022-2023).


Image: Driving, by Dennis Yang, licensed under CC BY 2.0


Team Leaders

  • Clinton Boyd Jr, Samuel DuBois Cook Ctr on Social Equity
  • Anna Gassman-Pines, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Adrienne Jones, Public Policy and Sociology–Ph.D. Student
  • Warren Lowell, Public Policy and Sociology–Ph.D. Student

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Katherine LoBue, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • James McIntyre III, Economics (BS)
  • Jada Purkett, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Richard Qi, Economics (BS)

/zcommunity Team Members

  • City of Durham
  • Durham County Department of Social Services