Senate Looks At License Suspension Poverty Spiral

Sep 10, 2015

Failure to pay traffic fines or child support. The reasons for suspending a driver’s license in Florida are piling up and Senate transportation chairman Jeff Brandes wants to do something about it.

Senate Transportation Chairman Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, will conduct hearings next week to see if too many Floridians are having their licenses suspended unnecessarily.

Brandes says it’s an issue he’s wanted to dig in to for the last two years. He says he’s moving license suspension to the top of the list after a recent Miami Herald investigation showed 77 percent of all suspensions in Florida over the past three years were for failure to pay fees.

“Over the years we’ve tacked on the penalty, the penalty of losing your license, and that has festered so long that it has created a major problem in Florida.”

Brandes says he worries about a poverty spiral. He says too many people lose their jobs because the lack of a license makes it impossible to get to work. He says an immediate solution comes to mind.

“So in lieu of removing people’s driver’s license, can we make the penalty a business purpose only license, so they can get back and forth to work, so they can make the child support payment.”

Brandes is going full bore next week when lawmakers return to Tallahassee for the first committee week before the January legislative session. He says hearings have already been scheduled.