Of all the factors keeping people trapped in cycles of poverty, especially in Dallas’ southern sector, the one that gets the least blame might be the most destructive: traffic tickets.
Say you receive a speeding ticket and can’t pay the fine immediately, then you miss a payment and forget about it. This leads to more fines and fees and a hold on your driver’s license that prevents you from renewing it until you are paid up, which might take years. It’s called an OmniBase hold, after the company that administers a database for almost every county in the state. Many people essentially lose their licenses forever, leaving them stuck in low-paying jobs that take hours to get to and from on DART.
In a report released in November, Texas Appleseed and the Texas Fair Defense Project found that four ZIP codes in East and South Dallas (75216, 75217, 75227, and 75241) were among the top 10 ZIPs statewide with the highest number of holds in a year. Also, the program disproportionately affects Dallas’ black and Hispanic residents.
For the entire report, along with recommendations for fixing the problem, go to texasappleseed.org.