Some People Deserve to Lose Their Licenses

Driving your car is not a right in the United States, but rather a privilege granted to you by the state and federal government. When you pass your driving test and receive your driver’s license, you are effectively receiving permission to operate your motor vehicle on government funded roadways. Because of this, the government reserves the right to revoke your driving privileges if you fail to comply with federal and state laws.

Losing your driving privileges can have serious repercussions that can cause hardship and financial burden. It should be only be used for the most extreme offenses. Tennessee has recently come under intense scrutiny for revoking nearly 90,000 driver’s licenses for unpaid tickets and fines. Critics argue that by doing this, the state is keeping the offenders in a cycle of poverty that is nearly impossible to get out of.

However, there are times when revoking driver’s licenses is required in order to keep the public roadways safe from reckless citizens. Jason Roth and Amanda Eggbert of western Wisconsin were recently arrested after a day of drinking and riding snowmobiles. Both of them had a BAC of double the legal driving limit, but they were not charged with DWI.

Rather than call a taxi, Roth and Eggbert decided it would be a good idea to make their 9-year-old daughter drive the couple’s pickup home, while Roth, Eggbert, and the young girl’s toddler sibling rode as passengers. Police responded to the incident after seeing the truck dramatically swerving down an icy, rural road near the Apple River. The officer responding had to jump in the vehicle and put it into park before removing the family from the truck.

Instead of being charged with a DWI, the couple will now face felony charges of reckless endangerment and child neglect. Instead of paying an inconvenient taxi fare to their home or a motel, they will be paying fines and court fees. They will probably need to also hire a criminal attorney in the Milwaukee area, which can become quite expensive.

Revoking a motorist’s driver’s license is uncompromising and severe. It should be reserved for the most despicable offenders. For people like Roth and Eggbert, who displayed terrible judgment that endangered the lives of their children and everyone on the road, the punishment perfectly fits the crime. However, the unfortunate truth is that many Americans with revoked driver’s licenses have been thrusted into economic hardship because of unpaid fines. These are a result of draconian laws that put many Americans in terrible situations that they cannot get out of. By not having access to reliable transportation, these unfortunate citizens are unable to travel to work. If they cannot work, they aren’t able to make the money to pay their fines.

State lawmakers have a duty to reevaluate laws regarding driver’s license revocations. They should be used as a last resort against repeat offender who put other motorists’ lives at risk. Not as a tool to create a debtors prison or class of people who simply cannot recover from their economic shortfalls. People who don’t pay traffic fines should be penalized with wage garnishment, community service or a tax levy not losing their ability to drive to and from work.