Lawsuit Alleges Montana Discriminates Against its Poor

The class-action suit was filed Thursday

By Dillon Tabish
BOZEMAN — A federal lawsuit is challenging how Montana suspended driver’s licenses for people who fail to pay court fines.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the class-action suit, which was filed Thursday, calls the system an “unconstitutional wealth-based suspension scheme” that discriminates against poor Montana residents.

Attorneys for 22-year-old Bozeman man Michael DiFrancesco filed the suit, claiming their client is unemployed and homeless as a result of having his driver’s license suspended due to his inability to pay court fines.

The suit is asking a judge to prohibit the Montana Motor Vehicle Department from automatically suspending the driver’s licenses of people like DiFrancesco who fail to pay court-ordered fines, costs and restitution because they are unable to pay, arguing that the practice violates their constitutional rights to due process.

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