LANSING, Mich., September 24, 2020, — A bipartisan legislative package that would prevent an individual’s license from being suspended for offenses not related to public safety or driving passed a vote in the House today, including bills introduced by state Reps. Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods), Lori Stone (D-Warren), Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township), Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) and Cynthia Neeley (D-Flint). These bills are a result of recommendations by the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, which is charged with developing meaningful criminal justice reform.
“Having a driver’s license and the ability to drive is a necessity to our residents,” said Yancey. “We need a driver’s license to get to work, school, the doctor… As a punishment, it is counterproductive, because you can’t meet your obligations if you can’t get to work. Depending on where you live, a car may be the only way to get from point A to B, so we shouldn’t be restricting our citizens’ ability to drive for any reason other than the illegal or dangerous use of a motor vehicle.”
House Bills 5846-5852 and 6235 eliminate license suspension as a punishment in the Michigan Vehicle Code for all offenses not related to unsafe driving. The package also eliminates license suspension for other offenses including failure to pay child support and drug offenses that do not involve a vehicle.
“Many parts of our criminal justice system seem designed to keep the economically disadvantaged in a cycle of poverty and incarceration, and license suspension is no different,” said Stone. “If someone is ticketed and unable to pay, their license is often suspended. That person is then often forced to decide between driving to work without a license or staying home and getting fired. If they choose to drive to work, they can then be pulled over and ticketed again for driving without a license. It’s a terribly vicious cycle, and it’s time we break it.”
All eight bills now await a hearing in the Senate.