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Measure to end driver license suspensions for non-traffic offenses next goes to governor

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A bill that would stop driver license suspensions for non-driving offenses will next head to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk after lawmakers took action this week.

The License to Work Act got bipartisan support in both the Illinois House and Senate. Senate Bill 1786 passed the Illinois Senate in March. The Illinois House passed it this week at the beginning of the fall legislative session.

The measure would change the Illinois Vehicle Code to end the practice of suspending drivers’ licenses for non-traffic offenses such as parking tickets and missed tolls.

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin said the change was needed. He said the state’s existing laws “just don’t make sense.”

Durkin said the law should not “prohibit people from doing things that they should be doing, like driving to work or picking up their kids.”

The Illinois ACLU has supported the legislation. The organization reported that 50,000 Illinois drivers have their licenses suspended annually because of non-traffic offenses.

“If you can’t work, you can’t pay,” the group said on its website. “If you can’t pay, you can’t work. The debt cycle continues, hurting individuals, families, businesses, communities, and taxpayers.”

State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, said the law will help people keep working and put them in a better financial position to be able to pay off debts they owe.

“We understand that in society people need a driver’s license to do just that,” she said. “And in many cases, they need a driver’s license to get a job.”

If the governor signs the bill, it would take effect on July 1, 2020.