CARE Fund (Community-Assisted Resources for Equity)
The CARE Fund is a volunteer, community-based project to provide assistance to those in Thurston County who want to pay small fines to get their drivers’ licenses reinstated. The Fund assists people recommended by public interest attorneys. Assistance payments on behalf of clients are made directly to agencies and courts, not to the individual.
Interfaith Works serves as fiscal sponsor of the CARE Fund, continuing its 40+ years of commitment to social justice and reforming our criminal justice system to be fair & equitable.
In Washington State, a driver’s license can be suspended indefinitely for failure to pay certain traffic fines. The suspension can remain until all fines and associated collection fees and interest are collected; this is designated as Driving With License Suspended-Third Degree (DWLS3).
Many who cannot afford to pay the fines are compelled to keep driving to earn a living. If they are stopped by law enforcement, they will be charged with DWLS3. This policy disproportionately affects poor people and contributes significantly to the cycle of poverty, unemployment and incarceration.
In 2015, about 39,000 people in Washington state were charged with DWLS3; this amounts to about 1/3 of all cases heard in District Court throughout the state.
FEES AND FINES CAN PILE UP
Most prosecutors and judges in District and Municipal Courts treat fines as “part of the punishment,” especially if no jail time is imposed at the initial sentencing. Thus, a $150 or $300 fine is often imposed. The number is an arbitrary one determined by the prosecutor’s own policies. In rare cases, jail time may also be imposed.
CONSEQUENCES OF HAVING ONE’S LICENSE SUSPENDED
♦ loss of job
♦ loss of child custody
♦ loss of food stamps
♦ reliance on other social supports
♦ hopelessness and mental health issues
POLICY CHANGES NEEDED
In the long run, statewide and nationwide policy changes are necessary if this cruel and punitive system is to be changed. But you can make a real difference today by supporting the CARE Fund. Your donations will help pay small fines so a person can get their driver’s license back or otherwise close their court cases. This can make all the difference in someone’s life.
Interfaith Works serves as fiscal sponsor of the CARE Fund. IW is a 501(c)(3) organization (Tax ID: 91-0947698). Contributions to Interfaith Works and designated to the CARE Fund are tax deductible as allowed under federal tax law.
To make a secure, online credit card contribution, use the “Support Interfaith Works – Donate through PayPal” option on the right side of this page. Below “choose a donation amount,” in the space for “Notes,” enter: CARE Fund so that your contribution will be correctly designated. Enter a donation amount and then click Donate, and proceed with the credit card process.
Make check payable to Interfaith Works. Indicate in the memo line that the donation is for the CARE Fund, and mail to:
c/o Interfaith Works
P.O. Box 1221
Olympia, WA 98507
Typical Costs Supported by CARE Fund
$18 – Discounted Intercity Transit bus pass for one month.
$25 – Prepaid fuel card
$43 – Conviction fee for each misdemeanor
$95 – $129 – Cost, once all fees have been paid, to get driver’s license back
$50 to $300 – Help with outstanding debts