Michigan Legislature Moves to Protect Driver Licenses

Dear Michigan NMA Members,

Michigan may stop withholding driver licenses as punishment or as a way to force payment of fines and judgments, under a package of bills introduced on June 11. House Bills 5846-5854 would greatly reduce the number of offenses for which the state can take away your driver license, or impose large fines.

HB 5846 would prevent the state from suspending a driver license for—

  • Failure to answer a ticket or pay a fine or judgment
  • Juvenile alcohol or drug convictions
  • Failure to report a change of address
  • Three or more unpaid parking tickets
  • Failure to show proof of insurance
  • Failure to pay driver responsibility tax or points tax

And several other non-driving offenses.

HB 5850 would end the practice of suspending driver licenses for failure to pay child support.

HB 5853 would make most violations of license-plate law civil infractions, with fines of no more than $100.

HB 5854 would eliminate the mandatory 5 days’ prison sentence for the first conviction for drunk dr9iving.

These bills are part of a nationwide movement to make it easier for persons to keep their driver’s licenses so as to keep their jobs, pay fines and judgments, support themselves and stay out of jail. Legislatures are finally learning that taking away mobility is a severe penalty that shouldn’t be lightly imposed. The bills above each have at least 30 so-sponsors from both parties, which is a sign that they may speedily be passed.

The bills are also a reaction to Michigan’s bad experience with the Driver Responsibility Act, which applied huge surtaxes to some convictions. Around 400,000 Michigan drivers had their licenses suspended for inability to pay these taxes. Hundreds of thousands of citizens were trapped in a hopeless cycle of crushing debt and inability to drive to a job.

NMA members can follow the progress of these bills by clicking the links above or at the Michigan legislature’s web site, www.legislature.Mi.gov. Just enter the number of the bill you’re interested in.

You can use this web site to find your state representative and senator. If your representative is one of the 33 co-sponsors of this package, it would be a good time to thank him or her. Say that you’re a member of NMA, and you are glad your representative understands that driving is important for most of us and should not be taken away for trivial offenses.

Let your representatives know that immobilizing someone, especially the wage earner for a household, is a grave penalty that shouldn’t be imposed except for extremely-bad driving performance.

Thank you for your support of motorists’ rights in Michigan and the NMA!

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