NEW ORLEANS – Izell Mayes drove without a license for about 20 years, the result of unpaid traffic tickets, missed court dates and compounding fines that seemed impossible to pay off. Still, the 45-year-old plumber and father had to take his children to school and get to work. But when he was eventually pulled over, it meant arrest and more fines.

The worst experience came on a family vacation to a Six Flags amusement park in Texas, when a Louisiana state trooper pulled him over and hauled him away in handcuffs in front of his kids for driving on a suspended license. Afraid of additional complications, Mayes avoided court dates, and the bench warrants piled up.

Eventually, he owed nearly $23,000.

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