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Hold onto that driver’s license

It’s great when the law and common sense intersect, and that’s the case with a new Illinois law that lets drivers keep their license after a traffic ticket. The change isn’t costing taxpayers, and it might even save some money.

Until this week, the police took licenses to ensure that motorists who got a ticket showed up in court and paid the fine. Most people do those things regardless, and computerized record keeping has made it easier to track them if they don’t. But not having a license can be a serious hassle for people at banks, doctor’s offices and the check-out counter – even more so after 9/11. Try explaining to a TSA agent at an airport checkpoint that a circuit clerk is holding your ID.

It’s amazing how many people have their licenses confiscated. Madison County is holding an estimated 600 to 700 licenses. St. Clair County has a whopping 2,200. That involves a lot of administrative work and responsibility – which means costs – for circuit clerks. Now that will go away.

It’s amazing that Illinois didn’t drop this requirement sooner. Lawmakers have been talking about changing the law since at least 2008. But better late than never.