COLUMBUS—State Representatives Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) and Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) have introduced legislation which corrects a current injustice in the criminal justice system related to driver’s license suspensions and the granting of limited driving privileges. Currently, for many offenses unrelated to the operation or use of a vehicle, such as failure to pay child support or a court fine, complete license suspension is used as a punishment.


Although in some cases a court will allow offenders to drive to work or school, this is not automatic. There are many instances where a person cannot get to work to earn the money needed to pay what they owe, which only exacerbates the problem by leading to additional late fees. This bill retains the ability to revoke a license as a punishment while ensuring no Ohioan is deprived of the ability to get to work, school, or the doctor, so long as the offense in question is a non-driving related offense.


“This bill is about as straightforward as they come,” said Rep. Butler. “The intent of this legislation is to discontinue the unfair practice of suspending a person’s license, and then not granting them driving privileges for work or school, when the offense they committed had nothing to do with driving or with using a vehicle for criminal reasons. Under the bill, the privileges will be granted automatically in such circumstances. In many, if not most cases, in Ohio, people need to be able to drive to and from work to earn a living or receive training and education. It makes absolutely zero sense to punish someone who couldn’t pay a fine by making it harder for them to get to work so they can earn the money they need to pay the fine.”


“As Americans, we believe in a justice system that is fair and impartial,” said Rep. Sykes “But in Ohio, we have been trapping lower and middle-income taxpayers in a downward spiral of job loss, debt and jail time for low-level offenses. With this commonsense bill, we can break this cycle, further justice and get people back to work.”


House Bill 260 will soon be referred to a standing committee, and hearings will begin in the near future.

 
 
 
  
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