Driving with a suspended license is undoubtedly a petty crime, but more than 6,000 Texans were jailed for it in 2017. Texas state lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would reduce the penalty to a fine.
It’s a hazard of the impoverished, civil rights attorneys say. Poor people get a traffic ticket they cannot pay, fines and surcharges are tacked on and their licenses are suspended.
But they still have to go to work, to the grocery store and to doctor’s appointments and public transportation is not always an option. Should they face jail time for being caught behind the wheel?
State Representative Alma Allen, a Houston Democrat, does not think so.
Her House Bill 372 would lower the penalty for a second driving without a license conviction from a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in a county jail and a $2,000 maximum fine, to a Class C misdemeanor, for which the harshest penalty is a $500 fine.