Garnishing Deadbeat Drivers' Licenses
A bill before the Utah legislature would revoke the driver's license of any non-custodial parent who fails to pay child support. I'm now sure how this wouldn't make the problem worse. If the State's ability to garnish wages is not effective enough, then wage garnishment laws should be strengthened.
gar·nish /ˈgɑrnɪʃ/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[gahr-nish] –verb (used with object)
When I was a kid, I heard my mother say to me on more than one occasion, "If you don't get your chores done, I'll ground you for a month!" I'm sure I've said that to my kids, too. But I knew my mom wasn't serious about the real problem. My kids as well knew I wasn't serious, because the crime they had committed was nothing compared to the punishment they would receive, and they knew I wouldn't/couldn't enforce it.
The Utah legislature is currently considering a bill that would revoke the driver's license of a deadbeat parent who is in arrears in child support payments. Taking away a person's license to drive in nearly all cases would curtail that person's ability to earn the money with which he or she would be able to pay child support costs. And just like my mom's penalty, the state will not be able to keep an unlicensed driver off the road. It will be much less successful in this endeavor than in garnishing wages of the same people.
The Salt Lake Tribune is in favor of the Republican-sponsored measure. Thirty-six other states use driver license revocation as a punishment for failure to pay child support. So? Does it work? I don't know, but I wouldn't think so.
Currently the Utah Office of Recovery Services has some authority to garnish the wages of deadbeat non-custodial parents. It's not working as it should, apparently, because "72,000 people now owe a total of $325 million in unpaid support". But how accurate are these statistics? The Associated Press reported:
"For every story I hear about a custodial parent not receiving funds, I hear a story from a noncustodial parent who has been abused by the system. My concern is we're going to pass this bill and think we have solved a problem," [Representative Ron] Bigelow said.
There are other methods besides garnishment: interception of tax returns and liens on property are two of the more common methods. If we can find them to stop them from driving, we can find out their sources of income.
So let's not make the problem worse. Revoking drivers' licenses will very likely do that.