Leon County Judge Layne Smith thinks too many Big Bend motorists are circling the financial drain because their license was suspended or revoked.
Smith says a minimum wage worker can get pushed over the brink when an unpaid traffic fine leads to a suspended license -- and a suspended license leads to unemployment.
“I don’t have absolution or a magic wand, but there are certain things we can do to help them, to get them started, because you’re really a second-class citizen if you don’t have a driver’s license.”
Smith’s answer is a driver’s license clinic on July 7th at the Leon County Courthouse’s Thomasville Road Annex. Some motorists will be offered a chance to work off their fines with community service.
Not everyone will get reinstated that day, Smith says. But staff from motor vehicles, the court clerk, tax collector, state attorney and public defender will go over individual cases and steer people in the right direction.
“If there’s one main point that I think we can absolutely accomplish, more so than the number of people who walk away with a license that day, are going to be the number of people who for the first time in a long time, can say, OK, I know exactly what I’ve got to do to get this done.”
Florida suspends about 1.2 million licenses every year, and studies suggest most of them are for failure to pay fines. Republican Senator Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg wants to stop the state from suspending the license of people who can’t afford to pay, but the bills have stalled for the last two years.