Bill to flag licenses of drug offenders fails

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 30, 2010

BATON ROUGE (AP) — An attempt to stamp driver’s licenses with the orange words ‘‘drug offender’’ for people twice convicted of felony drug crimes was rejected by a House committee Thursday, likely dooming the proposal for the legislative session.

It appeared the bill by Rep. Rickey Hardy, D-Lafayette, was diverted to the House Criminal Justice Committee for just that purpose. The proposal had been approved by the House Transportation Committee, but was quietly sent to the second panel.

The measure would have required anyone twice convicted of producing or distributing drugs with the intent to sell them to receive a driver’s license with the orange stamp.

Hardy said the bill would deter crime and help police officers identify potential threats.

Sgt. Jason Starnes of the Louisiana State Police testified that the bill would help officers quickly gain information during traffic stops and other situations.

‘‘Having that information available could help alert them to an additional potential danger that could be encountered,’’ Starnes said.

Opponents questioned whether it would stop any criminal activity.

Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, questioned the wisdom of the bill, as officers are already able to quickly see a person’s criminal background by running their names through a database.

‘‘You know everything you need to know by just pushing a button,’’ Norton said. ‘‘There is no need for a person who has been in incarcerated to … to come back and be tagged by putting this sticker on their driver’s license.’’

Norton said the stickers would encourage further criminal activity by discouraging those with stamps on their driver’s licenses from cashing checks and participating in other routine activities.

‘‘We talk about rehabilitation, but how are we going to rehabilitate someone and then come out and say ’But we’re going to stigmatize you,’’’ Norton said.

The measure was shelved without objection.