Louisiana state legislators are considering a special driver’s license for drug offenders.
The bill would apply to drivers who have multiple felony drug convictions and would display “DRUG OFFENDER” in bright orange letters on the bottom of the card.
Rep. Rickey Hardy (D) introduced the bill in the state House of Representatives, where it was unanimously approved by the Committee on Transportation, Highways, and Public Works. However, because it deals with drug law, the bill must still be heard by the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice.
Hardy said he introduced the bill to help provide a better quality of life for his constituency.
“I live in the hood,” Hardy told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “Elderly people are afraid to go outside because of the drug dealers. This bill is a deterrent; it is another obstacle for a drug-oriented lifestyle. It is not a stop-all solution.”
The legislation is also supported by Louisiana law enforcement.
“When they [officers] are handed that license, a caution light is going to come on in a law enforcement officer’s mind”, Maj. Dewayne White of the Louisiana State Police told the Shreveport Times. “If a drug offender doesn't have it, [the officer’s] caution light may come on too late.”
The bill nevertheless faces some opposition, as some say it is unnecessary and only shames former criminals trying to turn their lives around.
“It’s stigmatizing people to absolutely no useful purpose,” Marjorie Esman, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the ACLU, told WWLTV in New Orleans. “It’s a gross invasion of privacy. It means that every time you have to show a driver’s license when you board a plane, to write a check at the grocery store, information that is not relevant to that particular activity is going to be disclosed, and it will serve no useful purpose.”
The bill is expected to be debated on the floor of the House of Representatives during the week of April 12.