Bill description: For driving without a license, in certain instances, HB 599 would change the conviction for a first or second offense from a misdemeanor to an infraction. HB 599 would also lower the fines, fees, and jail sentences for driving on a suspended license.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non- violent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?
Currently, an individual convicted of driving on a suspended, revoked, or disqualified license is guilty of a misdemeanor, sentenced to a minimum of two days in jail, fined up to $1,000, and may have their driving privileges revoked for an additional 180 days beyond the original suspension that led to the conviction.
For a second offense within five years, an individual is guilty of a misdemeanor, sentenced to at least 20 days in jail, fined up to $1,000, and may have their driving privileges revoked for a period up to two years. For a third or subsequent offense, an individual is guilty of a misdemeanor, sentenced to at least 30 days in jail, and fined up to $3,000.
HB 599 would reduce the penalty for individuals who are convicted of driving with a suspended or revoked license if the license was suspended or revoked for the possession of alcohol while under the age of 21 or for failure to pay in a judgment order. In these instances, the individual would be guilty of an infraction and fined $150. For all other individuals, the mandatory minimum sentences would be eliminated.
HB 599 would also eliminate the government’s ability to suspend a license for a failure to pay an infraction penalty. Suspending a license often limits an individual’s ability to continue to work, in turn making it harder to earn money to pay the prior infraction penalty, creating a spiral that is difficult to get out of.
Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt?
HB 599 would reduce local government spending by lowering the prosecutorial, public defense, and incarceration costs for counties. The Fiscal Note for the bill estimates $9,116,676 in savings for local governments through the reduced need for prosecutorial work of misdemeanor cases, less demand for public defenders, and less strain on county jails. There would also be a reduction in state and local government revenue from fines of $5,373,871 to state dedicated funds for courts, highways, law enforcement, and public schools, and a reduction of $249,809 to district courts.