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Pritzker signs “License to Work” into law

Friday, Jan 17, 2020

* Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker today signed the License to Work Act, which eliminates driver’s license suspensions for most non-moving violations and allows tens of thousands of Illinoisans whose licenses were canceled, suspended or revoked to have their driving privileges reinstated.

“With this bipartisan legislation, Illinois now recognizes the fact that suspending licenses for having too many unpaid tickets, fines, and fees doesn’t necessarily make a person pay the bill — but it does mean that people don’t have a way to pay,” said Governor JB Pritzker, who also has called for reform for the past several years. “We, as a state, have a vested interest in making sure all our residents who need their licenses to apply to a job or an apprenticeship program, or who already use their licenses to drive to work, to the grocery store, or to the doctor, don’t lose those opportunities because of a practice that reinforces cycles of instability.”

More than 50,000 Illinois licenses are suspended each year because drivers cannot afford to pay tickets, fines, and fees. Suspended licenses hinder an individuals’ ability to maintain employment and pay off fines and fees, keeping people trapped in a cycle of debt and unemployment.

“For years, Illinois has held driver’s licenses hostage when people couldn’t pay excessive parking and vehicle tickets. That drives people into poverty and keeps them out of work. Using license suspension for debt collection is cruel, counterproductive, and frankly embarrassing,” said Sen. Omar Aquino (D-Chicago). “I am proud to stand with my colleagues, community leaders, and partners and say; this practice ends today. No more will Illinois take driver’s licenses away and turn lives upside down because of parking and vehicle compliance ticket debts. This is an important victory in the fight to end policing for profit and stop funding government through tickets, fines, and fees - especially on the people least able to afford them.”

“The License to Work Act was truly a labor of love. This piece of legislation has taken over two years to introduce and pass and I am honored to have championed it. This new law doesn’t just restore drivers licenses to tens of thousands of Illinois residents, it restores dignity, equity, and quality of life. It eliminates driver’s license suspension as a penalty for most non-driving violations,” said Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign). “I am grateful that Gov. JB Pritzker understands that when we take basic life necessities away from people, we perpetuate a downward spiral of financial despair. This legislation was designed to ensure that over 50,000 licenses are restored, jobs are restored, economic growth is restored, community is restored. Today, that downward spiral of financial despair ends, and we starting building up.”

“For far too long, thousands of residents in Chicago and around the state every year have had the experience of having their driver’s license taken away — in turn putting them at risk of losing their car, their job, or worse, and often inflicting the most harm on our Black and Brown communities,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Today we applaud Governor Pritzker and the General Assembly for taking a giant step forward for Illinois and its communities by signing SB 1786 into law today to prevent driver’s license suspensions for minor offenses. We know that suspending driver’s licenses has a severely detrimental impact, with one study showing that 42% of those who had their licenses suspended lost their jobs. The City of Chicago was proud to take the step of halting driver’s license suspensions for non-driving violations last year, and we’re elated that not only will driver’s licenses now be reinstated, these new policies will also be true throughout the state.”

“Over 50,000 Illinoisans have suspended licenses because they simply can’t afford to pay tickets or fines,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R- Burr Ridge). “This bill stops a practice that doesn’t fit the times and is the right thing to do.”

Senate Bill 1786 takes effect on July 1, 2020.

The bill’s sponsorship was quite diverse and, particularly in the House, pretty bipartisan.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

22 Comments
  1. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:04 pm:

    I’d like to thank whoever voted yes under skillicorns name.

    Also, what’s up with the no vote from Batinick?


  2. - Occasional Quipper - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:05 pm:

    Congratulations to those who made this happen. This is some really good common sense legislation.


  3. - don the legend - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:13 pm:

    …don’t lose those opportunities because of a practice that reinforces cycles of instability.”

    Amen to this. Over the last few years Honeybear has educated us on this cycle of instability and how blind the privileged among us can be to this instability.


  4. - Sue - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:18 pm:

    Any ideas as to how Illinois will convince people to pay their fines.


  5. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:22 pm:

    - convince people to pay their fines. -

    Maybe they can force them to read your comments until they do.


  6. - former southerner - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:28 pm:

    Excitable Boy: I believe that your suggested enforcement mechanism is dangerously close to the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment…


  7. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:35 pm:

    ===force them to read your comments===

    Unconstitutional.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:37 pm:

    Good to see how bipartisan this was and how a functioning state finds common grounds for the betterment of society.

    Smart bill. Good work by all.


  9. - Quibbler - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:42 pm:

    “Any ideas as to how Illinois will convince people to pay their fines.”

    The fines shouldn’t exist in the first place.


  10. - Han's Solo Cup - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:48 pm:

    Poke fun at Sue all you’d like, but what incentive will there be for people to pay parking tickets and non-moving violations? They can’t be forced to post a cash bail and they are free to drive all they’d like with zero repercussions. Give a legitimate answer.


  11. - NoGifts - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:49 pm:

    -Sue- How do we force anyone to pay a bill? We sell it to a collection agency. I don’t see why this would be different.


  12. - BigLou - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:51 pm:

    I understand the reasoning of how are people supposed to pay fines if they can’t drive to find a job. But seriously, it seems like the there is a growing movement lately that if you’ve done something and should be punished but you can’t pay, don’t worry about it. You can’t pay your parking tickets, that’s ok, we won’t take your car (so go ahead and keep parking illegally). You shoplifted, that’s okay, we aren’t going to press charges (who cares about the victim and the fact you may have just broke their profit) or even in Chicago, you can’t pay your water bill, don’t worry about it. Where is the motivation to do right and what is accepted in society as being correct. Or they are raising the rent and you can’t afford it, that’s ok, let’s try and get rent caps back so the landlords don’t make money to put back into the property so your housing falls apart. Or not paying your rent and because of that the landlords going into foreclosure, that’s ok Mr/MS tenant, lets take 6 months to evict so by that time you, the landlord and potentially other tenants are now out in the cold.
    Sorry, I needed to vent.


  13. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:52 pm:

    Does this apply to non payment of child support?


  14. - SpfdNewb - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 12:55 pm:

    Garnish wages, withhold income tax refunds, or place a lien on personal property are just 3 ways I came up with in the minute or two it took to type the response.


  15. - Han's Solo Cup - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 1:05 pm:

    Garnish wages? For a traffic ticket? Do you know the hoops the state would have to jump through to do that? The offender would have to show in court and provide employment info to be punished when they can just keep going about their business regardless. Who is going to do that? And what if they don’t have a job or are self employed? How is a municipality going to withhold income tax refunds? Liens? On what? Their car, which you can’t tow now, or their house? What if they rent? And zero of your ideas were written into the law. The fact is, this law enables habitual offenders to walk away from their responsibilities with zero repercussions.


  16. - BigLou - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 1:07 pm:

    -SpfdNewb-
    Something tells me that a lot of people that have lost their license, maybe not the majority but definitely a lot, do work for unreported, cash so garnishment and refunds don’t matter and they probably won’t claim any property that can be liened an most likely no one is going to expend the time or money to discover any assets.


  17. - ISPRETIRED - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 1:07 pm:

    Then what do you do with people that continue to drive without car insurance? I am out $2,500, but the man who hit me now gets his drivers licence back. I say bull.


  18. - The Doc - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 1:26 pm:

    ==I am out $2,500, but the man who hit me now gets his drivers licence back==

    It’s applicable for non-moving violations.


  19. - Flapdoodle - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 2:43 pm:

    Some commenters are concerned about people being let off the hook because there are no apparent means to force them to pay their fines, enabling ” habitual offenders to walk away from their responsibilities with zero repercussions.”

    I get this concern, but there’s another side to it. We know that a person unable to drive may have difficulty finding and keeping a job, making them less and less likely to recover their driving privileges by paying off their fines. This first unintended consequence can easily lead to further unintended consequences involving disrupted families, social and welfare agency intervention, law enforcement, and perhaps incarceration. The final costs to society wind up being much greater than some small fines going unpaid.

    The impulse to punish nonpayments, though deeply rooted in our culture, is neither particularly attractive nor effective. (Remember poor houses and debtors prisons?), Solutions to the problem of cascading unintended consequences need to be preventative and corrective, not punitive.


  20. - Rayne of Terror - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 2:47 pm:

    @Dupage Saint - I had the same question and I skimmed the bill and it doesn’t have anything to do with child support arrears.


  21. - Han's Solo Cup - Friday, Jan 17, 20 @ 3:06 pm:

    - Solutions to the problem of cascading unintended consequences need to be preventative and corrective, not punitive.-
    And what does this do to address that? What in this law would coerce corrective behavior? Nothing. I understand that someone should not lose their driving or professional license for non-payment of child support. I’ve always thought that was counter productive. But by removing the ultimate hammer for non payment of a fine-a license suspension- there is no reason for anyone, regardless of income or social standing, to pay a non moving violation.


  22. - cece - Friday, Jan 31, 20 @ 1:17 am:

    Someone asked how fines will be paid. I was the victim of an overzealous and deceptive police officer. He put 40 tickets on a car that was parked 9n private property and my brother was a otr truck driver. The nearly 4000.00 in fines were bogus anyway. Thank God this nightmare is over.


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