Mayor Muriel Bowser announced efforts to support the reentry of DC residents by introducing legislation that repeals the current District Code which automatically revokes or suspends the driver’s licenses of those convicted of drug-related offenses, even when these offenses are unrelated to motor vehicles. This change will ensure that District law is tailored to public safety instead of maintaining outdated policies that go against DC values. Study after study shows that when a person has access to basic needs like a job, transportation, a family and community support system, and adequate housing, they are less likely to re-offend.
“My Administration understands that employment is a crucial element for successful reentry and a second chance at living a successful, productive life,” said Mayor Bowser. “By removing unnecessary burdens and ineffective policies, we knock down barriers to re-entry, reduce our recidivism rates and put every returning citizen back on the path to the middle class.”
Since 1992, the District has signed the federal mandate annually to avoid losing highway funding. If the current law is repealed, Washington, DC will join the majority of the United States that has ended this ill-advised practice without penalty or loss of funding. DC automatically revokes or suspends driver’s licenses for drug offenses even when the crime does not involve a motor vehicle. This legislation creates an unnecessary obstacle to successful reentry, as many jobs require a driver’s licenses to apply for and perform the work and reach employment opportunities that may not be easily accessible through public transportation. To opt out of the federal requirement, DC Council needs to repeal the law which sets the policy on mandatory suspensions and pass a resolution formally stating its opposition to the policy. The Mayor will then affirm that she and the Council are opposed to retributive measures stripping returning citizens of driver’s licenses.