Driver’s license for ex-offenders leaving prison advances

Legislation that will provide a provisional driver’s license to formerly incarcerated individuals is headed to the governor for his signature after the House agreed to changes from the Senate.

House Bill 551, sponsored by Rep. Nick Bain, would provide reentering citizens with a six month provisional, class R, driver’s license so that they may be able to properly reintegrate into society by going to work or school, making all scheduled appearances in adherence with supervision requirements, pick up a child from school, and attend religious services.

If the individual adheres to rules and regulations under this provision, they will be eligible to receive a regular driver’s license after completing the standard procedures.

In a 2018 report, the Prison Policy Initiative showed that pre-and-post-release employment services are crucial factors in the successful reintegration of reentering citizens as the unemployment rate is the highest within the first two years of release. One of the largest barriers to full and successful integration is the challenge of attaining a driver’s license due to some state and local policies allowing for the suspension of license due to unpaid fines and fees.

Without a license, formerly incarcerated individuals may be unable to gain and keep employment, make scheduled appointments with probation officers, and even attend school. During such a crucial time frame, this lack of a major necessity can increase the chances of an individual recidivating or being subject to revocation.