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Senate votes to allow drug offenders back behind the wheel

Wisconsin senators have voted to make it easier for at least some previous drug offenders to get back behind the wheel.

The bill would have Wisconsin opt out of a federal mandate that forces judges to revoke the driver's licenses of all convicted drug offenders even in cases that don't involve driving under the influence.

Under the state measure, judges would have the final say on whether a drug offender's license is revoked forever.

Linda Ketcham of Madison's Urban Ministry calls the change a step in the right direction. Her group works closely with released prisoners, many of whom did time for drug crimes.

She said about half the people her group works with had lost their licenses under the federal mandate.

Ketcham says there are good-paying jobs in places not served by Madison's bus system and drug offenders can't take them because they can't drive to them.

She also said the state bill would make it easier for prisoners to take work-release jobs while still behind bars because many of those jobs also involve driving.