TOPEKA — Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau says the state law that revoked driving privileges for not paying a traffic citation should be changed to allow motorists to apply for a restricted driver’s license so they can go to work and earn money to pay the fines .
Faust-Goudeau, a Wichita Democrat who led efforts in the Kansas Legislature for previous traffic law changes, told Senate colleagues Tuesday the idea was to open a path for an estimated 3,300 Kansans to obtain a limited-use license . With that, she said, these people could earn an income that they could use to pay fines, get insurance and care for their families.
The state is running a program that allows more than 180,000 suspended Kansas to get back on the road with permission from the Kansas Division of Motor Vehicles. Kansans with a revoked license associated with non-payment of fines or fees do not qualify for the existing state program.
“It will simply allow them to participate in the law under the restricted driver’s license program,” Faust-Goudeau said. “Senate Bill 2 will certainly help those Kansans who want to go to work, they want to be law-abiding citizens. It will help them drive legally, make payments to the court and get insurance.”
The bill, which works out the deferment, would not be available to people with DUIs or other serious driving violations. Also, Senate Bill 2 could not be used by individuals who have been convicted more than three times for driving with a suspended, suspended, or revoked license. A person granted this limited license by the State Division of Motor Vehicles would forfeit it if found guilty of any other violation involving suspension, revocation or annulment of the license.
Senator Mike Peterson, a Wichita Republican and chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said he expects the committee to work toward approving a bill to address the issue.
“This is an important bill. We obviously want more insured drivers on the streets of Kansas. Having more insured drivers makes us all safer and is good public policy for Kansas,” said Sen. Ethan Corson, D-Prairie Village.
A dissenting coalition supported the legislation, including the NAACP, Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Chamber and a representative from three Kansas law enforcement associations.
Jonathan Lueth, assistant state director for the Kansas chapter of Americans for Prosperity, said a 2017 Wisconsin study showed that a valid driver’s license is often a better predictor of lasting employment than a high school diploma or GED certificate . The same study, he said, showed that people with a driver’s license were twice as likely to have an income above the poverty line.
“We want to make sure we give people the opportunity to break out of a vicious cycle that can sometimes lead to a vicious cycle of late payment, additional penalties, non-payment of those penalties and then from there,” Lueth said.
Marilyn Harp, former executive director of Kansas Legal Services, said the nonprofit National Safety Council has said that suspending or revoking licenses for violations of freedom of movement, including not paying a parking ticket, is not in the best interests of public safety.
“At this point, their policy is that driver suspensions should be limited to freeway and road safety behavior,” Harp said.
She said the Legislature had previously legally housed the motorists charged with DUI by allowing those individuals to get back on the road through the installation of an ignition locking device. However, the state law did not address individuals whose licenses were revoked for failure to pay a fine.
Glenda Overstreet, representative of the Kansas chapter of the NAACP, said state legislators have the ability to “give people a reasonable opportunity to take care of their families, secure themselves, and ensure that they are able to have one.” Keeping a job and then also being able to go to school and be productive citizens.”