Gov. McAuliffe proposes criminal justice reforms on driver’s license suspension

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McAuliffe speaking at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Va. (Kate Wellington/Wikimedia Commons)
Gov. Terry McAuliffe, pictured speaking in Herndon, Va., announced a criminal justice reform package in Richmond on Tuesday morning. (Kate Wellington/Wikimedia Commons)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced a criminal justice reform package in Richmond Tuesday morning which could eliminate the suspension of driver’s licenses for indigent offenders and some non-driving related offenses.

The governor announced two proposed bills to reduce the suspension of driver’s licenses in the Commonwealth. McAuliffe’s proposals could affect about a million Virginians, according to information provided by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Throughout my administration, I have worked with Virginia’s public safety officials, the legislature, and the courts to assure that we have a criminal justice system that is fair and seeks true justice,” said McAuliffe in a news release.

The proposed bills come in light of the nearly 1.289 million Virginia drivers with suspended licenses. There were nearly 650,000 suspended driver’s licenses for failure to pay court fines and fees in the state as of September 2016.

The proposed reform package has yet to be released in its entirety, and the proposed bills will need to be voted upon by the General Assembly.

“The changes we are proposing today seek to hold offenders responsible for their crimes in a way that maintains opportunities for rehabilitation and future productivity,” Gov. McAuliffe said in the news release. “I look forward to working with the General Assembly this session to pass these proposals and continue our bipartisan work toward a new Virginia economy that offers every individual a safe community and a shot at a better life.”

Gov. McAuliffe also announced legislation to raise the felony larceny threshold and to expand opportunities for convicts to obtain a writ of actual innocence based on new or untested DNA evidence. The felony larceny threshold is proposed to increase to $500 from its initial $200 threshold set in 1980.