Legislation to reduce several driving offenses from misdemeanors to infractions and make other changes eased at easing budget pressures counties are facing for jails and public defense was introduced this afternoon in the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, said, “This will take 7,000 misdemeanor cases out of the court system annually, while saving counties statewide over $9 million per year in the cost of incarceration, prosecution, and public defense.”
Chaney is co-sponsoring the bill with Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston; Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise; and Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth.
Under the bill, driving with an expired license would become an infraction on the first and second offenses, Chaney said; and driving with a license that’s been suspended for non-payment of fines or status offenses like minor in possession of alcohol would be an infraction. It still would be a misdemeanor to drive with a license that’s been suspended for other reasons, such as DUI or reckless driving. The measure also would repeal the mandatory minimum jail sentence for misdemeanor violations of driving on a suspended license, currently 5 days for a first offense and 20 days for a second offense.
Today’s committee vote to introduce the bill clears the way for a full hearing. Also introduced in the same panel this afternoon was an array of other legislation, including measures regarding sentencing for drug crimes; raising judicial pay; reworking landlord-tenant laws; updating Idaho’s “revenge porn” law; restricting gun possession by those convicted of domestic violence; and addressing threats of school violence.