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House Bill 597 — Driver’s license, revoked, fines

House Bill 597 — Driver’s license, revoked, fines

Parrish Miller
February 13, 2022

Bill Description: House Bill 597 would allow the state to revoke a driver's license over an unpaid traffic infraction fine.

Rating: -1

Analyst Note: In the Statement of Purpose for HB 597, it says the bill will "rectify the inadvertent repeal in 2018 of the statute by which the Idaho traffic code is enforced as to unpaid traffic tickets."

The Statement of Purpose for HB 599 from 2018 seems very intentional and unambiguous: "The legislation also would reinstate driving privileges for certain citizens previously suspended for no other reason than non-payment."

The Freedom Index rating for HB 599 in 2018 reflected this understanding.

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for nonviolent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?

Existing Idaho law says, "A driver's license shall not be suspended for failure to pay an infraction penalty." This is a reasonable standard that prevents the state from inflicting an undue hardship as a penalty for what is often a very minor, victimless offense. 

House Bill 597 amends Section 49-328, Idaho Code, to reverse this standard entirely, stating, "A driver's license that has been suspended for failure to pay an infraction penalty under section 49-1505, Idaho Code, shall not be reinstated until the licensee provides proof that the infraction penalty has been paid to the court."

House Bill 597 would create section 49-1505, Idaho Code (referenced above), to go into detail about when the state could suspend a driver's license for failure to pay a traffic infraction penalty.

The passage of House Bill 597 will result in the routine suspension of driver's licenses — which constitutes a severe and undue hardship — as an excessive penalty for the very minor, victimless offense of an unpaid fine. 


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