City unveils traffic ticket amnesty plan

Tens of thousands of people who drive Memphis roads roads are driving on suspended licenses, simply because they never paid tickets they got.

A new plan, an "amnesty" plan, will help them get their licenses back and it will only cost them half of what they actually owe.

On any given day there are 92,000 Shelby County residents driving on suspended licenses.

It's a crisis that has fueled Thomas Long's multi-year battle to get his special plan put in play.

"People are driving. So if they're going to drive we need to try to make sure they got a valid driver's license," said the City Court Clerk.

It's an amnesty plan that will allow drivers who haven't paid old tickets to get their licenses back. All they have to do is pay half of what they owe.

Right now, Long says there are $22 million in outstanding fines uncollected. And the drivers keep driving.

This plan makes it easier for them to pay and to get back on the road. Legally.

"If there's an accident they don't have to get in that car and drive off. Because they don't have any insurance," said Long.

The worst zip codes are 38106, 38109, 38114, 38116 and 38127. Drivers living in these zip codes account for over 40 percent of the total.

Long says his priority is putting more legal drivers on the streets. But his plan has an added side effect. Money.

The city may be cutting the fines owed in half, but half is better than nothing. Which is what they're getting now from offenders who got their tickets more than ten years ago.

"Hopefully, we'll collect roughly between five and six million dollars," said Long.

With the city's budget running low, the timing couldn't be better.

This plan goes into play on September 1st.  All drivers unclear about their situation or who want to clean up their ticket situation should call the City Court Clerk's Office at 545-4520 or log onto and click on Amnesty to check their status.