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Drug Offenders May Need Special State Driver's Licenses

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By Kamika Dunlap on April 15, 2010 10:14 AM

Louisiana lawmakers are considering a bill requiring drug offenders to carry special state driver's licenses.

Individuals convicted of two or more felony drug offenses would need to obtain and carry the special driver's license.

The driver's license would have a special label with the words "DRUG OFFENDER" printed in orange to help law enforcement during routine traffic stops. The label would be a way for officers to quickly identify that the person has been involved in criminal activity, according to the Times-Picayune.

The drug offender driver's license (House Bill 139) won approval by The House Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works. The bill was introduced by Rep. Rickey Hardy, D-Lafayette.

The bill requires those convicted of a second or subsequent drug felony after Aug. 15 to carry the special driver's license for eight years.

Special licenses are already issued in the state with "SEX OFFENDER" labels to people convicted of certain sex crimes.

Under the proposed legislation, a $25 fee to be assessed on the convicted felon to pay for the special license. The fees in turn would help finance the special driver's license and identification cards.

Some critics say however that a special license won't stop crime and goes too far. But others who support the legislation say the bill would work as a deterrent even if it's not a stop-all solution.

Law enforcement has said the label on the driver's license would provide invaluable information.

According to officials, the state has about 3,000 people with two or more felony drug convictions.

HB139 now goes to the House floor for debate. The bill will also be heard by the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice.

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