New bill seeks to reduce driver's license suspensions in Florida
Dealing with a suspended driver’s license can be inconvenient and frustrating, especially if the offense that led to the suspension is unrelated to driving (i.e. failing to pay for insurance or child support). A new law could soon make life easier for Florida motorists.
The Senate Transportation Committee recently passed legislation to cut down the number of driver’s license suspensions in the state for offenses unrelated to driving. According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, more than 1.7 million license-related penalties were incurred for offenses both related to driving and unrelated to driving in the fiscal year 2015-2016.
Senators Darryl Rouson (D-St. Petersburg) and Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) co-sponsored Senate Bill 302. If passed, the legislation could dramatically decrease the number of license suspensions that occur each year. This is especially good news for people who cannot afford to get their driver’s license reinstated and become trapped in a never-ending cycle of penalties and fees. Recall, driving with a suspended license and knowing about it is a misdemeanor crime in Florida. When done often enough, it can sometimes be charged as a felony.
Under current law, motorists risk losing their driving privileges for a wide range of violations completely unrelated to driving. Such offenses include theft, graffiti, vandalism, failure to pay child support, writing worthless checks and a minor’s possession of tobacco.
“Florida suspends hundreds of thousands of licenses each year, often because a person is saddled with debt for fines that may have nothing to do with driving,” said Brandes. “This bill provides people with an opportunity to regain mobility, find employment and get their lives back on track.”
The bill would allow those experiencing financial hardship to perform community service instead of paying fees or fines. In addition, for individuals driving on a license that was suspended due to their financial hardship, the legislation would eliminate the felony criminal charge for a third or subsequent offense.
If you are facing a driver’s license suspension, contact me, Jordan Redavid, to ensure you do not lose your driving privileges.