Joint Statement on Texas Repeal of the Driver Responsibility Program

From FFJC Florida State Director Ashley Thomas along with Alliance for Safety and Justice, Americans for Prosperity, American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Florida Policy Institute

“On September 1, Texas abolished the Driver Responsibility Program – a program that resulted in driver’s license suspensions when people fell behind on their payments. Texas will also automatically reinstate 640,000 driver’s licenses previously suspended under that program, and another 350,000 people will become eligible to have their licenses reinstated. Lawmakers in Texas understand that debt-based driver’s license suspensions not only prevent people from earning the money they need to pay their debts, but also undercuts their ability to support themselves and their families, and undermines public safety. We applaud the State of Texas for ending the counterproductive and harsh practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid fines and fees.

Nearly two million Floridians have a suspended license, not because they are dangerous drivers, but because they are unable to pay fines and fees imposed for traffic and toll violations, misdemeanors, and felonies. Florida suspends driver’s licenses to motivate people to pay their fines and fees, but people can’t be motivated to pay money they don’t have. Ninety percent (90%) of Floridians drive to work, and studies show that 50% of people who lose their license also lose their job.

Texas joins Virginia, Mississippi, Idaho, Montana, California, and Washington, D.C. in ending court debt-based driver’s license suspensions. Florida should be next. It is time for Florida to pass legislation to end driver’s license suspensions for unpaid court debt and reinstate the licenses of the nearly two million Floridians struggling to pay their fines and fees.”