HB 599 is a key piece of criminal justice reform to ensure low-income Idahoans are not penalized simply for being poor. With over 13,000 misdemeanor driving without privileges (DWOP) charges in FY 17, DWOP charges are one of the most charged misdemeanors in Idaho every year. Read bill text here.
By ending license suspensions for non-payment of court fines and fees, allowing for the reinstatement of suspended licenses, reducing DWOP charges from misdemeanors to infractions that stem from the non-payment of court fines and fees, and removing mandatory minimum sentences, Idaho can significantly improve the current state of our criminal justice system. HB 599 is key to reducing the number of criminal charges that trigger the duty to provide a lawyer to the defendant, therefore reducing the burden on our overburdened public defense system. It also allows law-abiding, low-income drivers to maintain their primary mode of transportation, preventing them from losing access to employment and stopping the DWOP cycle.