State lawmakers have approved a bill that will let a judge suspend your driver’s license if you leave a gas station without paying for fuel. Backers say drive-offs increase when the cost of gas goes up, but opponents, like Representative Mary Mascher an Iowa City democrat, says the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.She says the state shouldn’t always be punitive, and adds this takes away privileges that have nothing to do with the crime they committed. Mascher suggests stations that have a problem put in pumps that only let customers pay before they pump, or use a credit card. That’s not a solution for Dubuque County representative Steven Lukan, who says it’s “punitive” for families like his that own a small gas station. He says to upgrade with all the credit-card technology costs tens of thousands of dollars and small businesses can’t afford to do it. Lukan, a republican from New Vienna, says gas theft should be more than a simple misdemeanor. He said with feeling, “That is thievery; that is stealing,” and added there should be strong deterrents, in the form of punishment. Supporters note that if the license suspension causes financial hardship, the court can always issue a restricted driver’s license. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.
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