Court: State may strip driver’s license of people delinquent on child support

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has overturned a District Court ruling that suspending driver’s licenses of people who don’t pay child support is unconstitutional.

The court ruled today in the case of Bruce Buchmann, a Swift County man, who claimed he can’t get a job driving a truck because his commercial license was suspended. At the time, he was more than $27,000 in arrears, and hasn’t made any of the $200-a-month child-support payments since 2009.

He has had his license suspended and made agreements to pay the support several times, but each time he balked at paying for the children.

Last summer, a District Court declared the state statute prohibiting the issuing of a limited commercial driver’s license unconstitutional, calling it “wholly irrational.” The court also said the law’s effect on people in rural Minnesota is considerably more harmful than for those in urban areas because there are fewer employers and public transportation is rarely available.

Today, the Court of Appeals rejected both points.

“The United States Supreme Court has never held that the right to pursue a particular profession, such as commercial truck driving, is a fundamental right,” Judge John Rodenberg wrote. “The statute provides a rational connection between the prohibition on limited commercial driver’s licenses and the public’s interest in having respondent support his children’s well-being through child support payments.”

Under the statute, officials can suspend a driver’s license of anyone who is three months behind in child-support payments.

The three-judge panel also rejected the claim that the statute unfairly targets people in rural Minnesota.


An urban obligor who lives very near a bus line may experience less impact upon suspension of his or her driver’s license than one who lives remotely from a bus line. A rural obligor who lives with or near family may have an easier time arranging a ride to work than one who lives remotely from family. Some rural Minnesotans probably have less difficulty arranging for transportation in the absence of a driver’s license than some urbanites. Once subject to license suspension under the statute, a rural obligor has the same options for license reinstatement as an urban obligor.

Here’s the full decision.

  • Kassie

    If you don’t pay your child support you can lose your driver’s license. Then your passport. And your fishing license and hunting license. Your wages will be garnished, as will your tax refunds. If that doesn’t work, and you still don’t pay, your Social Security benefits will be garnished until the day you die for all that you owe, plus interest.

    Pay your child support, it is just easier than fighting the system.

    • Stayinsingle

      What if your suddenly told you have cancer, your having a kidney removed in two days. There are complications and it’s over a month before the hospital pneumonia and incision site staff infection are cleared up. It is three months before you can get your child support obligations stopped and you lose your driver’s license. Now you start missing doctor appointments, and your ex refuses to forgive the three months in arrears. It’s not always as simple as just not fighting the system.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Let them eat bus passes. No buses? Let them eat shoe leather.

    Hope this isn’t one of those shmucks the courts are making pay for someone else’s babies (yes, U.S. courts have ruled that if someone else sires your children and you don’t catch it right away, you’re obligated to pay the child support, even after the blood tests come back).

    Meanwhile, here in the Cities I know of at least one under aged mom who doesn’t get welfare because she won’t identify the dad because she loves him too much to do that to him. Given this ruling, it’s hard to argue with her.

    And none of this has anything to do with the fact that no bankster ever goes to prison in this country, no matter how many billions of dollars they steal. The important thing is denying employment to dads who can’t pay their child support because that teaches them a lesson. Banksters can’t learn anything because the socialists in Congress keep bailing them out.

    And no, nothing about my rant makes any sense, but that’s because the people running this country stopped making sense a long time ago.

  • Kassie

    Taking away someone’s driver’s license is not denying them employment. And I have ZERO sympathy for someone who wants welfare, but won’t give up the non-custodial parents name. There are numerous reasons why we ask for the other parents name and they all have to do with keeping welfare costs down and providing the custodial parent with support.

    I will never understand people who stand up for people who don’t support their children when they can. Don’t have a baby unless you plan on paying for that child until they are an adult.

  • AnnMcK

    Can’t pay his child support? Seriously? It says right in the piece that his child support is $200 a month. He could make that standing on the on a freeway ramp panhandling.

    Save your sympathy for the custodial parent, who is likely doing whatever she has to do (multiple jobs, anyone?) to take care of the kids.

  • Mark Gisleson

    The non-custodial “parent” I referred to is also a minor. So is it the sense of the court (other commenters) that children are capable of entering into 18-year contracts with the state to pay for children who are not that much younger than their parents?

    IF schools distributed birth control and IF schools taught biology-based sex education, I wouldn’t disagree with you. But so long as we pretend kids don’t have sex and then treat them like hardened adult offenders when they do, you will not have my support for draconian child support laws that obscure society’s unwillingness to help young mothers.

  • Kassie

    Who is treating someone as a “hardened adult offender?” If the kid pays his child support, no one will treat him as anything but a parent doing what he needs to do. Because he is under 18 he shouldn’t have to pay child support? Bull. That girl is going to pay for that kid for her entire life, he should too.

  • smhallthetime

    My husband stopped paying child support because he found out the child was not his after 6 years. now he is losing his license.. It doesn’t matter if a child is your or not… if you VOLUTARILY sign the birth certificate when you and the mother are NOT married.. you are responsible for that child until he or she is 18 years old!! always remember to take a dna test. regardless… cover your own ass