Vehicles owned by drivers who’ve had their license revoked could be flagged with special license plates under a proposal before the Senate Transportation Committee. Senator Bill Stouffer is the sponsor of a bill that would require any resident whose driver’s license has been suspended, revoked or disqualified for at least 60 days to surrender current license plates and display a set of restricted license plates. The special plates would have to be displayed on any vehicle registered in the violater’s name, solely or jointly. The plates would be a different color than regularly issued license plates and would have to be displayed on the vehicle for the duration of the suspension or revocation. The bill would also outline that violaters would not be permitted to sell their vehicles without applying to the department of revenue for permission to transfer the title. The department would have to be satisfied that the sale is for a valid consideration and not an effort to dodge the special plate penalty.
Lieutenant Brett Johnson with the state Highway Patrol says the plates would also give law enforcement officiers probable cause to stop the vehicle – something not all committee members are comfortable with. Senator Matt Bartle says the special plates cause unnecessary traffic stops for family members who also drive the vehicle and who possess a valid driver’s license.
Senator Ryan McKenna questions why lawmakers shouldn’t just raise fines to address the problem of motorists driving with invalid licenses. Stouffer says raising fines isn’t effective enough because, right now, law enforcement officers have no way of knowing whether a motorist has valid license.
Stouffer says the bill is targeting repeat offenders who pose a serious threat to other motorists, including the potential for fatal traffic crashes. He says this is a serious problem that the state needs to address. Johnson supports Stouffer’s argument. He says the state Highway Patrol issued about 50,000 tickets for driving while suspended in the last year. Johnson says that doesn’t include tickets issued by other police agencies througout the state. He says people driving without a valid license is one of the two biggest complaints the Patrol receives.
The panel has not yet voted on whether to send the bill to the full senate.