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National Editorial & Columnists

Get a ticket? Legislation would allow you to keep license

Less hassle for drivers, officials

Unless getting ticketed for speeding is a regular thing for you, you might not know that in Illinois, your driver’s license is generally kept as bail. You get it back only after you pay the ticket or appear in court.

That would change under a bill sponsored by state Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin. Under Noland’s bill, if you’re cited for a petty offense, you’d simply sign the ticket – that’s a promise to appear – and put your license back in your wallet.

It’s called sign and drive, and it’s standard practice just about everywhere else.

For the benefit of those who haven’t had the misfortune to have a police officer explain this to them: The paper copy of your ticket serves as your temporary driver’s license.

The problem in the post-9/11 world is that you can’t use that paper substitute to cash a check, buy a beer, rent a car, pick up a prescription, get on an airplane, or perform any number of daily tasks that require a photo ID.

Returning your license wouldn’t let you off the hook. It would simply allow you to go about your business until you’ve paid the fine or convinced a judge you’re innocent.

It would relieve the circuit court clerk’s office of the responsibility for safeguarding and returning your license.

It would spare you from worrying that somehow your license could get lost instead.

Less hassle all around.

Normally we don’t have much sympathy for lawbreakers.

But, come on. Confiscating someone’s driver’s license over a minor traffic violation serves no purpose.

These are typically the lapses of otherwise law-abiding citizens – the people most likely to pay their fines and learn from their mistakes.

May the bill speed (safely) through the legislative process before your next traffic stop.

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