Motorists and others who receive traffic tickets in Louisiana could soon be responsible for paying a little extra to support public defenders in the state. Additional efforts are aimed at improving safety on the state’s roadways.
The Senate voted 37-1 to advance a bill that would raise the $35 fee that benefits the indigent defender program. The state program provides lawyers to criminal defendants who cannot afford representation.
The bill – HB325 – now heads back to the House for approval of changes before it can move to the governor’s desk.
If signed into law, the $35 fee attached to traffic tickets and on guilty verdicts would increase $10 to $45. In addition to traffic fines, the fee is levied on criminal defendants who plead no contest, are convicted or forfeit bonds.
A fiscal note on the bill estimates that public defender offices throughout the state would share as much as $5.9 million annually.
The amended bill calls for the proposed fee to revert to $35 in Aug. 2016, unless lawmakers vote to extend it.
Another bill needing House approval of Senate changes would strengthen mandatory penalties for drunk drivers.
HB47 would require repeat offenders of the state’s driving while intoxicated law to serve jail time. Specifically, offenders would spend at least 30 days behind bars if they are convicted twice within one year.
No longer would offenders be eligible for parole, probation, or suspension of the sentence.
In addition to jail time, offenders would be required to participate in a court-approved substance abuse and driver impairment program.
A separate bill, which is on the way to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk, would take more uninsured vehicles off roadways.
Louisiana law now authorizes towing of uninsured vehicles when a driver cannot provide proof of insurance on second and subsequent violations.
HB1053 would authorize towing after a first violation of the state’s mandatory vehicle insurance law.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana, click here.
Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the story topic. Comments may be sent to email@example.com.