A bill moving through the Louisiana Legislature intends to
help track sexual offenders. Meanwhile, a separate effort to identify those
convicted of driving while intoxicated has undergone significant changes.
The House Transportation, Highways and Public Works
Committee voted 10-0 June 6 to approve a bill that would require convicted sex
offenders to carry driver’s licenses with the words “sex offender” stamped on
them in orange type.
The bill, which the Senate already approved, is awaiting
consideration on the House floor. If approved there, it would head to Gov.
Kathleen Blanco’s desk for her signature.
Sponsored by Sen. Willie Mount, D-Lake Charles, the measure
would require convicted offenders to carry the distinctive licenses or, for
those who do not have driver’s licenses, personal identification cards with the
words printed across them.
The bill – SB612 – also would require the Department of Public
Safety to share its database of sex crimes violators with the Office of Motor
Vehicles, the agency that issues driver’s licenses.
Convicted offenders would be required to register annually
with the state. They would get a new license each year. Failure to register
could cause offenders to have their probation or parole revoked, be sent to
jail for up to six months and/or pay a fine up to a $500 fine.
State Police also would be required to notify local
authorities when a “sexual predator has been released from imprisonment.”
Another bill moving through the statehouse had a provision
removed that sought to make it easier to recognize drunken drivers.
The House Criminal Justice Committee deleted a requirement
from a bill that multiple offenders attach special orange license plates with
the letters “DWI” to their vehicles. The Senate previously approved the bill
with the orange-plate requirement.
The bill – SB47 – initially required the plates be placed on
vehicles registered and primarily driven by offenders for five years. The
plates would have cost $25 a year, in addition to regular license fees.
The measure included a fine if DWI drivers are caught
driving another vehicle without the license plate.
Anyone not following the rule would have faced up to six
months in prison and/or a $500 fine.
Opponents said the requirement would lead to unfair scrutiny
and labeling of individuals. Supporters said it was needed to help the public
to know that the driver could be dangerous.