Journalist-teacher fights for driver license as system gridlocks on poor

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Keelah Jackson is under a civil death sentence. The state tells this city court petitioner she cannot use a car privately, but must buy a license to drive or operate a car in commerce. But she is too poor to pay court fees and fines to end a state block on her getting a driver license, which she needs to avoid further criminal prosecution like that against her when she acted as a Good Samaritan for a sick person traveling down the road in May 2014. (Photo David Tulis)

This stamp affirms that city court has received a petition for a restricted license, which went to Judge Sherry Paty.

Petition for restricted driver’s license

City court case no. D27668

Petitioner requests this court direct the department of safety to issue a hardship driver’s license pursuant to TCA 40-24-105 in light of the necessity of the petitioner to travel the roads for employment, school and other reasons subject to the discretion of the court.

Background of loss of driver’s license

Petitioner has a suspended license from Georgia on account of $584.92, possibly more, in unpaid court costs connected with a city court case D27668 (violations 01-04). She was behind the wheel of a car owned by another party, who was violently ill while in transit. At a police traffic stop on May 24, 2014, the officer placed all charges of violation upon the petitioner, including no proof of insurance, headlight out, no vehicle registration and no city sticker.

She has been too poor to pay these fines, fees and costs and has since that time been unable to overcome the financial obstacles by increasing her productivity as educator, activist, writer, entertainer, mixed-media artist and motivational speaker.

Existing locations for work and pay

Petitioner requests the court’s leave to travel under restricted license by car or other conveyance to the following locations.

  1. Chambliss Center for Children, where she is employed part-time as a teacher.
  2. AT&T Field in Chattanooga, where she works as a mascot.
  3. Memo’s BBQ & Grill on M.L. King Boulevard, where she is a host and performer.
  4. Her church, New Covenant Pure Holiness Church of God on Glass Street, to which, if she could drive, she would be able to bring others to worship when church bus is unavailable.
  5. Several locations — Northgate Mall on Hixson Pike, Hamilton Place Mall on Gunbarrel Road, Chattanooga Choo Choo on Market Street, Chattanooga Airport on Airport Road, and downtown Chattanooga (including the Northshore district) — where she busks as a paid performer for SoundCorps|Chattanooga.
  6. 2479 Murfreesboro Road, Nashville, Tenn., 37217, where she attends quarterly staff meetings and gatherings for The Connect Magazine for which she is a senior writer.
  7. 8326 Tecumseh Lane, Nashville, Tenn., 37013, where she attends quarterly staff meetings and gatherings for the online publication, The Wonder Report, for which she is a columnist.

Prospective employment, job searches

Petitioner wishes this court to understand that a driver’s license is essential for her to pay off the fees that she owes (including the $200 reinstatement fee that she must pay so her Georgia license can be unsuspended), so that she might thus apply for a Tennessee license, as she is a resident now of Tennessee.

Judge, clerks refuse ‘client’ restricted license, offer costly path for regular one

A driver’s license will let her travel further for work. As things stand, she frequently travels by interstate transportation (Greyhound bus) to Knoxville and Nashville for work-related business meetings. She requests liberty to travel under driver’s license to these and any other cities for paying assignments. She is eager to work in locations outside of Hamilton County, but has had to decline job offers. Bus options have not worked out and individuals have withdrawn offers for rides too far away.

Public interest served, personal safety secured

Petitioner’s being granted a restricted license fulfills this court’s public interest in getting the justice system compensated by payment of court fees and fines, which she will be able to do if she can increase her productivity.

It also would serve the petitioner’s personal interests and enhance her personal safety to have a restricted driver license.

  • She is vulnerable to extremes of the seasons, heat and cold, as well as rain and storms, as she trudges as many as 15 miles every week on sidewalks, rights of way and along road curbs. If she falls ill under inclement weather, she loses opportunities to serve others in the marketplace.
  • Petitioner is a single female who uses public transportation and her feet as her sole means of travel. A driver’s license will protect her from having to travel in an exposed condition. Her movements are timed with bus schedules, a routine that puts her at risk from voyeurs and predators.

If this court has any questions, petitioner is happy to answer them in person. Etc.

Transportation administrative notice as PDF, 20pp

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