By Ari Odzer, NBC Miami

Here’s a number that might surprise you: about 700 people are arrested every week in Miami-Dade County for driving with a suspended driver’s license.

A local community advocacy group says poor people are bearing the brunt of those arrests, and Monday, they delivered 600 postcards to the office of State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. Each card represents 1,000 residents who currently have suspended licenses.

“Thousands of people are arrested not because they are reckless drivers, or dangerous on the roads, but because they are poor and can’t afford to pay the escalating fines and fees that the system imposes on them,” said Msgr. Chanel Jeanty, one of the leaders of PACT, which stands for People Acting for Community Together.

“A 70-year-old woman was arrested and held overnight in jail for driving with an expired tag — this is simply unacceptable,” said Jonathan Sepsenwol, a congregational leader from Temple Beth Sholom and member of PACT.

It’s an interfaith group made up of Christians, Catholics, Jews and Muslims. PACT is asking the Miami-Dade State Attorney to sign onto a plan to allow civil citations when someone is pulled over with a suspended license instead of arresting the person.

“What we’re not saying is that people who commit offenses that warrant arrest, we’re not saying that those individuals shouldn’t be arrested, what we’re saying is saddling someone with an arrest record, simply for driving with a license that was suspended not related to a traffic offense, not related to a dangerous offense, but related to the fact that they couldn’t pay a fine or a fee — what we’re saying is that is completely unacceptable,” Sepsenwol said.

It happened to Michael Wise, a Miami pastor.

“It’s one thing if I knew my license was suspended, still driving, but I didn’t know,” Wise said.

He was pulled over with his son in the car, and then handcuffed, arrested, and taken to jail. He had no previous criminal record.

“I mean, I was stunned, I was like, smiling, like this is a joke, was waiting on him like, OK, well, I’m letting you know your license was suspended, go ahead and get that taken care of,” Wise explained. “It wasn’t none of that, I’m gonna take you in, get out, put your hands behind your back, go from there, like I’m a criminal.”

Rundle’s office said they basically agree, saying in a statement, “As you know, the issuance of a civil citation rather than making an arrest is a decision made at the point of initial contact, not a matter that can be undone when the arrest form arrives at the State Attorney’s Office… this is why… she has long been a proponent of utilizing civil citations for these situations.”

The State Attorney’s Office says local police agencies must change their arrest policies to make a difference on this issue.

View the original story here.