Today saw an interesting bill related to repeat DUI offenders from out of state. The bill is SB2157, and it would require the Department of Transportation to issue a work permit to any DUI offender who has lost his or her license in another state provided that person has lived in North Dakota for five years without any restriction and has paid the applicable fines. The DOT would also be authorized to put other reasonable requirements on the issuance of that permit such as monitoring or counseling.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Dwight Cook (R-Mandan) who gave an emotional speech on the floor in favor of it. He spoke of a constituent who runs a successful business in North Dakota, and his lived here without problem for some time now, but who cannot get a license to drive because he got four DUI’s in Florida while in college and lost his license in that state.
In order to get his license back in Florida he would need to move there for as long as ten years, and then come back to North Dakota to get his license. Which clearly isn’t reasonable.
If he’d gotten his DUI’s in North Dakota he would be eligible for a work permit. But because he lost his license in Florida, a compact between the states prohibits North Dakota from issuing that permit.
Repeat DUI offenders are more than likely people who have a real problem with alcohol consumption, obviously. And it’s appropriate that they should lose their driving privileges for some time. But is a lifetime ban on driving, even for people who can demonstrate that they’re now leading a clean life, reasonable?
I don’t think it is.
Senator David Rust (R-Tioga) spoke in favor of killing the bill, saying that he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he gave a license back to someone who had gotten 4 DUI’s only to see that person relapse and hurt somebody.
That’s an understandable concern, but I wonder how many people can overcome not just a drinking problem but a lifetime impediment to a career in the form of a ban on driving? Not many, I suspect.
Why not give these people a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a work permit after five years of living on the right side of the law?