State Dems Seek to Drop License Suspension Over Unpaid Tickets
The list of 14 State Democratic Senators is 'the usual suspects' when it comes to very social justice leaning proposed legislation. Most of the more controversial proposed legislation in the State Senate has their names on it as sponsors.
26th Legislative District Senator Emily Randall (D) is one of the ones leading the charge on Senate Bill (SB) 5226. This bill would eliminate having your driver's license suspended for not paying tickets, fines or citations (moving violations).
According to the Pierce County GOP, and KOMO-TV, supporters claim suspension sends lower income people into a 'cycle of poverty' when faced with having to pay fines or lose their license. KOMO-TV says state officials claim suspended licenses account for 1/3 of prosecutors caseloads in WA. This proposal would 'free up' the court system.
Currently, as most of us know, if you receive a moving violation, you either contest it in court, do a mitigation hearing, or pay it. If you ignore it, eventually DMV suspends your license. IF you continue driving on suspended and are caught, the fine is up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail. The state can also refer the person to collection agencies for the purpose of getting the fine money.
The bill does not specify what would replace the suspension penalty. From the actual bill 'report' itself from WA State Legislative website:
"...SB 5226)...Eliminates drivers' license suspension for the failure to pay, respond, or appear at a requested hearing for a traffic infraction for a moving violation.
• Authorizes the Department of Licensing (DOL) to reinstate all driver's licenses suspended for reasons that are no longer grounds for suspension.
• Requires DOL to take reasonable steps to notify anyone whose driver's license was suspended who may qualify for reinstatement, and create an online application process for people to use to determine whether they are eligible for reinstatement, within 90 days of the effective date of the legislation."
According to various collection agency officials and opponents of the bill, this proposal would remove virtually all responsibility and accountability for driving offenders. They say often the only motivation offenders have for trying to pay their fines is the threat of losing their license.
Currently, as of February 17th, the bill is still in a Senate Committee.