Ranit Patel

  • Hosted by The Bronx Defenders
  • Sponsored by Venture Justice Fund
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Criminal Justice Reform
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Ranit’s fellowship aimed to end New York’s cruel and counterproductive practice of suspending driver’s license in response to non-payment of traffic fines and non-appearance at traffic hearings.

Traffic Debt Suspensions, driver’s license suspensions for non-payment of traffic fines or the non-appearance at traffic hearings, trap millions of New Yorkers in a cycle of debt and punishment. Such suspensions force people who cannot afford to pay their traffic fines to make an impossible choice: stop driving and lose access to work, childcare, and other basic necessities, or keep driving and risk criminal charges. While approximately 75% of people continue to drive on a suspended license, this tension is especially felt by people of color, who are disproportionately stopped, ticketed, arrested, charged, and punished.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Ranit:

  • Led the campaign to enact the Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act (DLSRA), signed by Governor Cuomo on December 31, 2020. The DLSRA went into full effect on June 29, 2021. It ends driver’s license suspensions for unpaid traffic fines, reinstates driver’s licenses for unpaid traffic fines, and establishes affordable monthly payment plans for traffic fines, fees, and surcharges
  • Trained public defenders across New York State in how to use the DLSRA to assist their clients
  • Successfully represented clients in reinstating their driver’s licenses under the DLSRA

Next Steps

Ranit will join the National Center for Law and Economic Justice as a Staff Attorney. There, she will focus on broad fines and fees reform through litigation and legislative efforts, in New York and across the country.


New York’s Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act Takes Full Effect

Statement from Driven By Justice Coalition: Gov. Cuomo Signs Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act

Advocates call for canceling court fees, fines; reinstating drivers' licenses

Assemblymember Hunter’s bill to end driver’s license suspensions due to traffic debt passes Assembly

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