The North Carolina legislature is engaged in a lively debate regarding revisions to the No Operators License Charge (NOL). Currently, any driver facing an NOL charge is subject to a maximum fine of $200.00. Additional penalties are possible if a driver receives his fifth NOL conviction within a single year. The potential revision will create daunting consequences for drivers who are unable to obtain a North Carolina Driver’s License because they do not have a social security number or other identifiable documents specifying legal status. Many people come to the United States to chase the dream of providing a better life for their family. Immigrants who enter the country illegally are not eligible for a driver’s license, but still must drive to work long hours to support their families.
The new punishments for NOL target these very hardworking individuals, who are unable to obtain a valid drivers license. If the new changes come to fruition, these individuals would be subject to harsher sanctions, potentially including:
- a $400 fine for the second NOL conviction and each subsequent offense.
- 20 to 60 days in jail for the third or subsequent offense
- For a third offense, a driver’s vehicle could be seized/confiscated by the government.
These new changes appear to be aimed at the illegal immigrant population who do not have access to obtaining a valid drivers license.
There is another bill that has passed committee, but has not received a hearing, that would provide a much better way to deal with unlicensed drivers. This proposed bill calls for giving illegal immigrants the opportunity to obtain driving privileges. Those who have clean criminal records and pass a driving test would be eligible for these driving privileges. Providing driving education and guaranteeing that these drivers have insurance is a superior mechanism for ensuring we have safe drivers on the road. Punishing hard working people who are trying to provide a better life for their families is not the correct path the legislature should take.
By providing avenues for all of our residents to follow the laws responsibly, we can ensure we have safer and more responsible drivers on our roads. As of now, no changes have passed yet, but it is a very important piece of legislation to keep our eyes on.
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