ANNAPOLIS – A Senate measure may allow the state to revoke the vehicle registrations of drivers who are caught driving with a suspended or revoked license.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Leonard H. Teitelbaum, D- Montgomery, would also make these drivers’ cars easily identifiable to police by a yellow and black striped “zebra” sticker affixed to the license plate.
A zebra sticker would be used the first time someone is caught driving without a license. The sticker alone would give a police officer reasonable cause to pull the car over and check the driver’s license.
Sen. Roy Dyson, D-St. Mary’s, praised the idea of a zebra sticker: “I want to know who these people are, so I can get out of the way. I think it will save a lot of innocent lives.”
The measure would also affect people who allow drivers with a suspended or revoked licenses to use their cars. A police officer could place a zebra sticker on any car driven by one of those illegal drivers.
The owner of the car would then have 30 days to request a hearing with the Motor Vehicle Administration to contest the punishment, or the registration would be suspended for 60 days. After that 60 days, the owner would have to pay the standard fees to re-register the car.
Since the zebra sticker is placed over the registration sticker on the license plate, it cannot be removed without tearing off the registration sticker.
According to John Moulden of the Maryland chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), roughly 28,000 citations are issued each year in the state for driving with a suspended or revoked license. Of those, only 2,700 cases end in a conviction.
Simply revoking license is not enough, Moulden said, given that high number of cases.
The bill “makes [offenders] reach into their pocket,” and is an additional deterrent, Moulden noted.
Teitelbaum said the measure is much less severe than comparable laws in other states such as Iowa and California, where the offenders’ cars are impounded and sold. “This is just a reasonable first step,” he said.
Though no one testified against the bill at the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing Wednesday, Chairman Walter M. Baker, D-Cecil, thought the measure might unfairly stigmatize car owners whose vehicles are used by illegal drivers.
“What if I happened to borrow a car with one of these stickers?” Baker asked. “My neighbors would think my license was revoked.”
A mail-in survey, conducted by Gallup and commissioned by AAA Potomac, showed that 32 percent of Marylanders supported mandatory jail time for those penalized drivers who defy the law by continuing to drive. Twenty percent supported placing a special sticker on the offender’s car, while only five percent favored impounding and selling the car. -30-