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Bill Would Reform Driver's License Suspension Laws In Florida

Florida Highway Safety And Motor Vehicles

Pinellas County Senator Jeff Brandes is renewing his push to limit how the state suspends driver's licenses. He filed a bill in the Florida Senate that would ban suspensions for most offenses that don't involve driving.

“If you’re going to lose your driver’s license it should be for some type of driving-related offense – careless driving, obviously, or multiple tickets where clearly you’re a danger on the road,” Brandes said. “Not as a penalty for skipping school or underage smoking.”

You can also get your license suspended in Florida for not paying court fees and fines, something Brandes’ bill would also prevent.

He says losing the right to drive could mean losing your job, especially in a car-dependent state like Florida. And if someone decides to drive anyway and gets caught, the arrest can lead to more trouble.

"Often times we find that driving on a suspended driver’s license is the one thing that kind of begins to snowball in people's lives and gets them on a criminal justice path," Brandes said.

One exception to the bill: you would still lose your license for failing to pay child support.

This is the third year Brandes is pushing this bill. Last year’s legislation died in the Senate Appropriations Committee. He says the challenge is that local clerks of court collect money from fees related to driver’s license suspensions. Brandes says he hopes lawmakers can come up with another way to fill that budget gap during the 2018 session, which starts January 9.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
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