[2015 Session] Modify Penalties for the Offense of Driving With an Invalid License

Policy Background:

Currently, the offense of “Driving While License Invalid” (e.g., suspended license) is a fine-only Class C misdemeanor unless it is a person’s second offense, in which case it becomes a Class B misdemeanor and warrants jail time.

Texas policy-makers should cap the penalty for Driving While License Invalid at a Class C misdemeanor, to reserve costly jail beds for those who pose a threat to public safety.

Key Facts:

  • In Fiscal Year 2014, nearly 30,000 Class B misdemeanor cases were added to Texas court dockets for “DWLS/DWIL” [Driving with License Suspended / Driving with an Invalid License].[1]
  • Also during that time, 10,461 misdemeanants were sentenced in a Statutory County Court to local jail for DWLS/DWIL.

    And 808 misdemeanants were sentenced in a Constitutional County Court to a local jail for DWLS/DWIL.[2]
  • Current policies pose significant costs to county taxpayers in terms of arrest, prosecution, public defense, and jail time.

Relevant Bill:

[1] Office of Court Administration, Statutory County Courts: Activity Detail from September 1, 2013 to August 31, 2014, p. 3; http://www.txcourts.gov/media/696423/3-SCC-Activity-Detail-fy-2014-pdf.pdf [25,774 New Cases Filed]. Also see: Constitutional County Courts, Activity Detail from September 1, 2013 to August 31, 2014, p. 1; http://www.txcourts.gov/media/701752/3-CCC-Activity-Detail-2014.pdf [4,029 New Cases Filed].

[2] Ibid.