ATLANTA - Thousands of Georgia parents are just days away from losing their drivers' licenses because they've repeatedly failed to pay court-ordered child support.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher learned automated links between two state agencies now make it much easier to suspend the licenses.
The current process started in May with the State Department of Human Services focusing on a little more than more than 12,000 parents who are chronically behind with their child support.
DHS oversees 388,000 cases of court-ordered child support.
Delinquencies or flat-out long-term non-payments are a constant problem.
Sending the non-payer to jail is an option, but that doesn't help the child.
“If parents that owe child support are incarcerated, they cannot pay,” said Tanguler Johnson, director of the state Child Support Division.
She said the prospect of losing the driver's license works.
Johnson said in 2011, there was no computer link between her office and the Department of Driver Services.
That year, the state collected $3 million in delinquent support payments.
Since the addition of a link, that has jumped to $9 million a year.
Belcher asked Johnson what she would say if she could speak directly to non-paying parents.
“Please, if you're unable to pay, contact us and make sure that you let us know about your circumstances, and if you are able to pay, make sure you move forward and pay as ordered,” Johnson said. “Otherwise, Aug. 20, your driver's license will be suspended.”
Johnson said about 56,000 Georgia parents are perpetually behind in their payments.
Many of them have no job or a low-paying job, which makes it virtually impossible for them to meet their required payments.
One of the ways her office is trying to reach those parents is through a network of ministers.