Sunday, February 24, 2019

Bill limiting suspensions a start at untangling worst-in-nation driver-license mess

Texas revokes more drivers licenses, by far, than any other state, The Washington Post reported last year. But House Corrections Committee Chairman James White wants to change that. He has a bill up in the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday that would rectify a small but unremittingly ill-conceived provision in the current law.

Presently, Texas law doubles down on license suspension as a punishment, even when it fails to keep drivers off the road. When the Transportation Code lists grounds for suspending licenses, the very first one is driving while one's "license was suspended, canceled, disqualified, or revoked, or without a license after an application for a license was denied."

So one of the punishments for driving with your license suspended is to suspend your license for a minimum of one extra year. Combined with the Driver Responsibility surcharge, which has left more than a million Texans with suspended licenses, this provision adds insult to injury, leaving drivers without a license even after delinquent surcharges are finally paid.

By contrast, people who engage in "habitually reckless" driving, "fraudulent use" of their license, or are responsible for an accident that results in serious personal injury or property damage, only get a 90-day suspension.

Driving with an invalid license is already its own crime, so it doesn't particularly need the extra administrative penaltyy. Chairman White's HB 162 would apply the extra suspension only for drivers whose licenses were suspended for DWI. And then, he would limit the suspension to 90 days, which is the amount of time for all other suspensions under the same provision.

It's a small change but it would help untangle a particularly difficult bureaucratic gnarl which can ensnare drivers for years after they've otherwise paid their debt to society. Grits is glad to see the bill getting an early hearing and hope it garners support in committee.


Unknown said...

Is there any movement on eliminating the mandatory 180 day suspension for ANY conviction for marijuana?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

If there is, it'll be part of the penalty reduction Gov. Abbott endorsed. Not sure we've seen the final bill on that, I think negotiations are ongoing.

Anonymous said...

Why is Texas allowed to refuse an ID Card or Drivers License when they say you owe fines or child support?

Without ID or Driver's License: No working, No banking, No renting, you get the picture. Who's ignorant idea was that?

Robin said...

Only a drivers license is refused for failure to appear or failure to pay you can still obtain a state ID card

imnotalone said...

Looking at the definitions of various words, I've noticed they are defind in such a manor as to indicate involvement in commerce.

I know the courts made the shift from a right to a privilege back in the late 1910. But you can still find case even after where the right to travel was upheld.

The ever expanding state is constantly looking for ways to satisfy their avarice, by any means necessary. With the cities receiving half of the money from a ticket and the state the other half. It seems like a conflict of interest to be making laws and collecting from from the law.