People who end up facing legal fines - for one reason or another - are at special risk of having a small amount of money add up into a bigger issue.
If they don't pay the fine, they could lose their driver's license, and without a license they can't drive to a job to make the money to pay what they owe.
The Legal Aid Justice Center is working to educate and help people who find themselves in a tough situation after not being able to pay off those court costs.
"It's always surprising how many people are really struggling with a loss of license because of unpaid court costs and fines,” said Carolyn Kalantari at the Legal Aid Justice Center.
In Virginia, you have 30 days to pay a court cost in full or set up a payment plan. If you don't, your license is gone.
It's a growing problem. In 2012, 42 percent of suspended licenses were due to unpaid court costs.
"When individuals lose their driver’s license they often lose their livelihood and with that the ability to pay back their court costs and fines. This becomes certainly a vicious cycle,” said Kalantari.
A cycle that also leads to uninsured drivers, people driving on suspended licenses, getting caught and then facing criminal charges.
Kalantari is working to educate people to keep them from falling even deeper in the hole. There’s a free compliance document that you can get at the DMV that can help.
"It will list out the various courts where people owe and it gives them a place to start. They know which courts to contact and to see if they can establish a payment plan,” said Kalantari.
Kalantari says another helpful tool is the DMV 2 Go mobile service center, a mobile DMV office that is making its way through the commonwealth - convenient for people who may have a suspended license. One stopped in Charlottesville Friday.
While the compliance form is a start, Kalantari says a bigger issue lies within the courts.
Many people owe in more than one area and the courts each have their own payment systems, which can be difficult to keep up with.
To contact the Legal Aid Justice Center, click here. For a DMV 2 Go schedule, click here.
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