The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Columns

September 22, 2013

Maureen Hayden: Is pulling license good public policy?

INDIANAPOLIS – Back in 1990, when the nation was still deep into the “war on drugs,” Congress passed a law that compelled states to suspend the driver’s licenses of all convicted drug offenders or risk losing part of their federal highway funds. States could opt out only if their legislature and governor went on the record opposing the law.

At the time, it was seen as a major public policy decision that, in essence, said this: There is a clear societal interest in keeping people off the road who’ve committed a crime, even if that crime has nothing to do with a person’s ability to drive safely.

In 1996, Congress came back again with the same remedy for “deadbeat” parents. The federal welfare-reform bill made all states grant the courts or government agencies the power to suspend or restrict a driver’s license for someone overdue on their child support payments.

Since then, states have used the penalty for a whole slew of offenses unrelated to traffic crimes. Drop out of school, get caught defacing a building with graffiti or sneaking into a bar as a minor – those are just a few of the offenses that can put your driver’s license at risk here in Indiana.

Is that good public policy? That’s a question that’s being asked by some members of the Legislature’s Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee, which is engaged in the ongoing (and thankless) effort of rewriting Indiana’s criminal code.

One factor driving the question: The estimated 350,000 Hoosiers who’ve had their licenses suspended or revoked, triggering them to lose their car insurance as well as their driving privileges. Too many are out there driving anyway. Some are joy-riding, but others just need to get to work or school. If caught, the penalties – including escalating license-reinstatement fees – quickly pile up.

Text Only
Columns
Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Will you be attending Colts camp?

Yes, at least once
Yes, I plan multiple visits
No
     View Results