Only 8 percent of deadbeat parents threatened with Idaho’s new license suspension law have actually paid their child support.
Although the number of licenses suspended continues to rise - 494 were taken statewide as of June 30 - officials say they are disappointed more people are not choosing to pay.
The law, which took effect Jan. 1, was designed to help Idaho parents get child support they are owed. It allows the state to suspend any state-issued license if a payer falls 90 days or $2,000 behind.
“We were a little surprised that people haven’t been more aggressive in paying,” said Health and Welfare spokesman David Ensunsa. “And once they are suspended, they have not been quick to fix that.”
The law also allows suspension for not living up to visitation agreements.
Health and Welfare handles all child support for people on welfare, as well as cases for paying clients. Other cases are administered by state court.
Of those Health and Welfare tracks, parents with suspended licenses owe $7.1 million in back payments. Just 38 of them have worked out pay agreements.
Adding to the law’s problems are two court challenges to the state’s definition of a license. Third District Judge Dennis Goff heard arguments Friday in a case filed by Rodney Hoskins, of Caldwell, who had his Realtor’s license suspended for not paying $12,000 in child support payments. Goff’s decision, which other judges must by law follow, is expected in about a month, said Jeanne Goodenough, chief of human services in the attorney general’s office.
In April, 4th District Magistrate Russell Comstock ruled the state erred in the definition of a license and reinstated the driver’s license of Gail Torres. But that ruling, since it was from magistrate court, does not carry the same legal weight.
Despite the legal challenges and a slow start, Ensunsa said the law is still the best option available for the state to collect money for children caught between feuding parents.
“In the short term, we’ve seen limited results. But in the long term, we believe the law will prove to be successful,” he said.
“It’s got a lot of potential.”
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