Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke has introduced a bill that would repeal a federal law that strongly encourages states to suspend or remove the driver’s licenses of people convicted of drug offenses. If O’Rourke’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the former punk rocker challenging Ted Cruz for his seat in the U.S. Senate.
The congressman’s bill, the Better Drive Act, would repeal Section 159 of Title 23 in the United States Code, which punishes states by removing eight percent of their highway budget every year that they don’t suspend the licenses of people convicted of drug offenses. The bill has bipartisan support, with Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York; Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wisconsin; Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York; and Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah all endorsing it.
“In many instances we find people going back and making mistakes, and doing things they’re going to regret, because they don’t have other options,” O’Rourke said, noting that the suspensions can last as long as six months even for non-violent drug offenders. “This is a common-sense, bipartisan reform of part of the failed War on Drugs.”
In a Medium post, O’Rourked noted that “nearly 200,000 driver licenses are suspended for non-driving offenses, 13,000 in the state of Texas.”
“Finding employment and earning legal income is crucial for people trying to stay out of the criminal justice system,” he added. “Further, we know that license suspensions undermine recovery efforts for those with drug use problems and the formerly incarcerated.
Watch O’Rourke’s YouTube about the bill below and check out his full Medium post on the subject here.
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