Clean Hands

D.C. law requires applicants for virtually any permit or license to show that they do not have outstanding debts for things like unpaid parking fines and unpaid water bills. As explained in a report by Tzedek DC, “[B]y continuing to deny license renewals as punishment for unpaid fines and fees, DC is now behind the curve, joined by only two states.”

The law “penalizes poverty and disproportionately harms Black DC residents…perpetuating a wealth-based driver’s license system.” And, “residents struggle with critical daily activities, including purchasing food at the grocery store, attending medical appointments, getting kids to childcare, and finding and keeping jobs outside their homes.” The Clean Hands Certification Equity Amendment Act would end the automatic, immediate suspension of driver’s licenses (under threat of criminal punishment) for unpaid debt. 

Status: Passed and enacted in 2022