1/14/2014Michigan Bill Would Take License For Skipping Class
Michigan House committee considers taking away driving licenses from truants.
A group of Michigan lawmakers want to take away the right to drive from high school students who skip class. State Representative Andy Schor (D-Lansing) and eight colleagues last week introduced legislation that would impose a six-month driving ban on juveniles accused of being frequently absent from school.
"A person not licensed under this act who has received a juvenile disposition for the willful and repeated absence from school or other learning program," House Bill 5209 states. "Upon notification by the court... the secretary of state shall deny issuance of a license to the person for 6 months from the date of disposition."
A companion bill would require the secretary of state to be notified any time a student is declared truant. Motoring groups worry that about the increasing use of a driver's license as a tool to enforce behavior wholly unrelated to driving. All states withhold licenses from individuals accused of failing to pay child support. Eleven states suspend for writing a bad check. Several suspend for prostitution. Vermont will take a license for illegal trash burning. New York suspends licenses belonging to anyone advocating the overthrow of the government. Texas suspends for being drunk on a boat. Vermont suspends for causing a false public alarm. Utah suspends for minors being in a bar. Ohio suspends for perjury. Iowa and Montana suspend for an unpaid college loan. Arizona suspends for selling liquor without a license. At the urging of the federal government, half of the states take licenses away for drug convictions unrelated to driving.
According to American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), 39 percent of individuals driving on a suspended license had their privilege revoked for reasons that have nothing to do with their ability to drive. The group believes suspensions for non-driving reasons "water down" the effectiveness of a suspension for keeping actually dangerous drivers off the road. As a result, three out of four drivers with revoked or suspended licenses ignore the prohibition and continue to drive.
"Eliminating 39 percent of suspended drivers will result in fewer citations for driving while under suspension and partially alleviate clogged court dockets," AAMVA argued in a 2013 report. "Individuals whose offense is unrelated to highway safety will retain their driving privileges, their ability to earn a living, and their ability to contribute to the economy."
A 2006 Rutgers University study found 45 percent of individuals who had their license suspended lost their jobs. Juveniles that skip class are not necessarily delinquent. Some that have fallen on hard times need their automobiles to get to work to earn money for themselves and their family. Many high school dropouts have gone on to successful careers. Schor insists the harsh measures are needed to crack down on truancy.
An AAMVA study found 19 percent of individuals whose license was suspended for driving reasons were later involved in a crash, as opposed to 6.9 percent who lost their license for non-driving reasons.
"The outcome of this research indicates that driver license suspension for non-highway safety related reasons is ineffective in achieving compliance with non-highway safety violations," the AAMVA concluded.
The group estimates that 79,000 hours of police and courtroom time was tied up dealing with non-driving suspensions.