Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Statesman: Law on suspended driver licenses causing practical problems

Tougher laws don't always reduce behaviors they target - sometimes they only complicate them and make things worse. Here's a case in point:

The Austin Statesman published a fine story today on problems with the state's law on driving with a suspended license, altered in 2003 by a counterproductive piece of legislation that The Wretched of the Earth also complained about this week in Dallas. High fees intended as revenue generators are clogging the court system when defendants can't pay, costing taxpayers much more than the fines actually produce. The number of people driving without licenses actually increased as a result.

See especially comments from readers below the Statesman article for individual stories of how the law affects average people. These fines aren't making anyone safer, they're just clogging up the court system. The 80th Texas Legislature should definitely move to repeal them.

More on this from the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer.

4 comments:

800 pound gorilla said...

Isn't this the "land of opportunity"? Don't we live in a meritocracy? If so, then the poor have no one else to blame but themselves! It sure does make liars in authority feel good about themselves to stigmatize poor people. Piling up more criminal and civil penalties give them opportunities galore. They should replace our elections with a lottery system to get fairer representation. Those in office don't represent the citizen taxpayers who make our economy and country work.

Celtictexan said...

More time in jail instead of fines would make the roads safer, but that leads back to the revenue generating scam you spoke of.

Of course the money is needed to fund all the unfunded Federal welfare mandates. Endless loop

Anonymous said...

Celtic you didn't read the article. More time in jail instead of fines has clogged the courts and increased the number of people driving without licenses. The don't "need" the money for anything, they're LOSING money by doing this.

I'd argue the law made the roads less safe, the courts unnecessarily overburdened, soaked the taxpayers, and put anyone who's not pretty darn well off in a total Catch-22. This happened to my nephew and he had NO WAY to come up with the money for thousand dollar surcharges. It's just unreasonable. They should change it back. DWLS needs to be lowered to a C misdemeanor and drop this surcharge nonsense.

@800: Bill Buckley once said he'd rather be governed by the first hundred people in the Boston phone book than the Masschussetts legislature. Maybe that'd work as well as a lotter - you could rotate which city's "A-list" ran the state. ;)

Celtictexan said...

This happened to my nephew and he had NO WAY to come up with the money for thousand dollar surcharges. It's just unreasonable.

This is interesting and I will agree, depending on what your nephew did to lose his license. I can tell you a story along this line. Part of the story can be seen here
Another big problem besides the easy availability of drugs, for this young man has been car insurance.

If you don't know per dollar spent, the number one money making racket in the us is the publishing business, but the #2 and the biggest scam of all under the heading of corporate greed (IMHO) is insurance, particularly car insurance. A scam mandated and conveniently aided by the lawyers who run our government and therefore gain huge wealth for there ambulance chasing brethren. He lost his license and has a huge fine hanging over his head because of repeated violations. He has to drive to work and make money. But he can't make enough to pay insurance and eat. The fines get bigger as they always are watching for him. An endless loop for him, and wrong. Then there are the dads who get behind on child support and lose their license and start racking up the fines. Scott likes to explore the things that hurt the poor so much and that is a good thing. Car insurance is one of these things.

But when it comes to drunks and drugged repeat offenders they need to be off the road. They need to be in jail. But if they were off the road, the profits made from the ridiculous costs of insurance made by the ambulance chasing lawyers would go away also. An endless scam.

And if you think fines aren't a significant part of government budgets you are wrong.

@800: Bill Buckley once said he'd rather be governed by the first hundred people in the Boston phone book than the Masschussetts legislature. Maybe that'd work as well as a lotter - you could rotate which city's "A-list" ran the state. ;)

I couldn't agree more.