Federal officials concluded that proposed service reductions and closures of several driver’s license centers in Alabama are a violation of civil rights, reports The Hill.
In response to their conclusion, the Department of Transportation and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency reached an agreement Wednesday for expanding license-related services to “ensure that all Alabama residents have access to driver licensing programs, regardless of race, color or national origin,” writes the news outlet:
“DMVs play a critical role in the day-to-day functioning of the American people, including ensuring their ability to drive to work and other essential services and to get proper identification needed to vote or open a bank account,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
“No one should be prevented from accessing these services based on their race, color or national origin.”
Alabama announced last year plans to close or reduce service at 31 driver license offices throughout the state. But federal transportation authorities opened an investigation after a preliminary analysis suggested that the proposed closures would disproportionately impact African-American residents in the state’s “Black Belt” region.
The legally-enforceable agreement––which includes adding more than 2,000 hours of operation for district and field driver’s license offices and appointing a coordinator who will make sure that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency complies with civil rights obligations––comes after the agency caused a major uproar in 2015 by proposing driver’s license office closures in high-poverty predominately Black communities, reports The Huffington Post.