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DEADBEATS COULD LOSE THEIR DRIVERS’ LICENSES

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If a Utah legislative panel has its way, the message to people who won't pay child support will be simple: Meet your responsibility to support your offspring or give up driving.

The Health and Human Services Interim Committee Wednesday voted unanimously to recommend a bill that would suspend the driver's license of anyone on a certified list of noncompliant child support obligors, created by the Office of Recovery Services. The suspension would have to be appealed to and lifted by Recovery Services.It also takes away the right of the noncompliant parent to drive a commercial vehicle.

That's just one of several approaches Utah plans to take to crack down on "deadbeat" parents who don't meet the financial obligations set forth in either court orders or administrative rulings.

The committee also recommended a bill that would suspend occupational licenses for certain professionals - including real estate brokers, investment counselors and consultants - who have not paid child support or made arrangements with Recovery Services.

"It targets only the professionals who by law can hang up their own shingles," said Cathy Dupont, associate general counsel. Other professionals would be caught through automatic income withholding at their places of employment.

The only people affected by either bill would be people who are at least 30 days behind in their child support payment and who have not tried to work out a schedule with Recovery Services, said the agency's director Emma Chacon. "These are the people we haven't reached through any other means."

By the time a name appears on the suspension list, she said, the individual has had two or three chances "for due process."

Sen. Craig Taylor said he supported the concept of collecting child support by going after occupational licenses but said he was not happy that certain occupations would be targeted, instead of all licensed occupations. "I think it's really unfair to single out some businesses," he said.

But a number of officials said it would be cumbersome to go after people who are already subject to withholding through employers. The law is designed for people who work for themselves and therefore slip through the cracks.

The Legislature will consider the bills when the session convenes in January.