The Seattle Times recently publicized a plan by the state legislature to decriminalize driving on a suspended license in the third degree. Many of those who are charged with this crime do not have a license for financial reasons, rather than any safety related reason. Those whose are suspended in the third degree are usually eligible to reinstate their license, but need to pay fines for tickets or clear up a missed court date. Often these people get caught in a "catch 22" where they don't have the money to pay the tickets, so they are forced to drive without a license in order to make a living and hopefully get money to pay for the tickets. Unfortunately, if they are caught driving they currently face criminal charges and incarceration for what is essentially a financial failure.
The effect of handling these cases on courts, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and the cities and counties they serve can be quite expensive, since they require all these people and entities to spend significant money handling these cases, when they could be handled as traffic tickets, with a simple fine. This would free up these resources to better address criminal cases of greater severity, and hopefully address the issues that affect our communities more.
The Seattle Times has a nice write up on this bill, that I hope will successfully pass.
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