State suspends of licenses of drivers behind in child support

Posted: Sunday, March 19, 2000

JUNEAU (AP) -- Seventeen Alaskans had their drivers licenses suspended this week after failing to pay child support, and more suspensions may be on the way.

Barbara Miklos, director of the Child Support Enforcement Division, said none of the 17 responded to repeated notices starting in September from the child support agency.

''We know that losing your driver's license can be a hardship on people, but so is going through life without the financial support children need from both their parents,'' Miklos said.

Parents must be at least four months and $1,000 behind in their child support payments to risk losing their license.

The suspension process takes seven months. Parents first receive a letter that they are in arrears and that their licenses could be suspended. If they do not respond after two months, the division sends out a notice of intent to suspend a license and information on how to avoid suspension.

Finally, after an individual review of the case, parents receive notice that their license has been suspended.

''We want to make sure there are no mistakes and no pending adjustments that could change the amount owed,'' said Rick Romero, enforcement supervisor.

Miklos said 325 parents were informed in September that they could have their licenses suspended and more from that batch could lose their driving privileges.

In January the division sent out another 10,000 letters with the initial notice of arrears.

''Many of those letters were responded to immediately,'' Miklos said.

The suspensions this week are the first ordered by the division under a state law that was delayed by a legal challenge for almost two years.

The Legislature adopted the driver's license suspension law in 1996 to meet requirements of the federal Welfare Reform Act.

Under the law, drivers can avoid suspension by paying off their debt or by setting up a payment schedule and ''making the best efforts possible under the circumstances'' to make payments on their account.

Of the 17 delinquent parents, 11 are from Anchorage or Eagle River, two from Wasilla, and one each from Fairbanks, Sitka and Ketchikan. One lives out of state.

Drivers have the right to challenge their suspensions in court.

In addition to paying off their debt or setting up a payment plan, delinquent parents who lose their license must pay a $100 reinstatement fee to the Division of Motor Vehicles.

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