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13 Kan. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 557 (2003-2004)
Are the Roads a Safer Place because Drug Offenders Aren't on Them: An Analysis of Punishing Drug Offenders with License Suspensions

handle is hein.journals/kjpp13 and id is 639 raw text is: ARE THE ROADS A SAFER PLACE BECAUSE DRUG OFFENDERS
AREN'T ON THEM?: AN ANALYSIS OF PUNISHING DRUG
OFFENDERS WITH LICENSE SUSPENSIONS
Aaron J. Marcus*
I. INTRODUCTION
In 1996, Walter Bell was a nineteen-year-old college student. Bell was not
driving, but an officer asked to search his vehicle and discovered a small amount of
marijuana under one of the seats.' A court found that Bell was in constructive
possession of marijuana and fined him $250.2 There was no indication Bell was
engaged in the sale or delivery of the substance nor was there any evidence Bell was
even driving.3 In addition to the fine and court costs, Iowa law provided that upon
conviction of any specified controlled substance crime the court shall direct the state
Department of Transportation to revoke the individual's driver's license for a period of
180 days.4 Bell appealed the license revocation claiming the law violated the Due
Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the both the Iowa and federal constitutions.5
Bell's arguments failed to convince the Iowa Supreme Court that the Legislature had
overstepped its bounds in enacting the law.6
Courts across the country have almost unanimously shared Iowa's sentiment.7
Suspensions have been upheld for non-vehicular related distribution offenses8 to minor
possession of marijuana.9 Nearly twenty states have enacted some form of this
legislation since 1990, now commonly known as use and lose laws.'10 Many more
revoke or suspend the licenses of juvenile controlled substance offenders.  It is
theorized that adding license suspensions to the already mass array of consequences
associated with narcotics offenses will have the dual effect of increasing highway
safety and deterring drug offenses.12
Limited research has failed to show that either intended purpose has turned into
actual achievement. Instead, the laws seem premised on a traditional war on drugs
mentality, which appeals to voters' significant disdain for narcotics with a zero-
tolerance, highly punitive, and tough-love approach.'3 Narcotics penalties are already
incredibly harsh, but the collateral consequences associated with driver's license
suspensions may significantly increase the sanction beyond the mere loss of the
privilege to drive.14 The ability to drive can especially impact current employment,
family life, and access to new or better jobs. In addition, there is a great concern
regarding the disproportionate detriment the laws have on poor and minority
557

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