Roughly 76% of license suspensions in Florida are unrelated to traffic safety. Ending driver’s license suspension for non-traffic safety related offenses could save Florida over $40 million in taxpayer costs annually.
This policy brief explains some of the justifications for Florida’s practice of suspending driver’s licenses and explores the consequences of that practice—driver’s license suspension disproportionately burdens low-income individuals and has an adverse impact on public safety. The authors specifically discuss four non-driving offenses that lead to driver’s license suspension in Florida: failure to appear, failure to pay fines and fees, drug offenses, and failure to pay child support. The brief concludes with recommendations for reform.
- Between 2011 and 2017, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked citations comprised 42% of all criminal traffic citations in Florida. By contrast, just 9% of citations issued were for Driving Under the Influence.
- Driving without a valid license in Florida can cost a person up to $500 in fines or 60 days of jail time for the first offense and up to $1000 on the second offense with potential jail time of one year. The third offense is charged as a third degree felony, which carries fines of up to $5,000 and a prison term of up to five years.
- “As roughly 76% of license suspensions in Florida are… unrelated to traffic safety, [ending driver’s license suspension for non-traffic safety related offenses] could save Florida over $40 million in taxpayer costs annually.”
- “Florida sends approximately 450 people to prison each year for felony DWLS charges, costing the state roughly 5.2 million a year.”
- “Florida estimated their annual postage costs for non-driving-related suspensions alone totaled around $72,000.”
- Stop suspending licenses for failure to appear for invalid license/registration offenses and passing a worthless check OR give judges discretion over license suspensions when individuals fail to appear for invalid license/registration offenses.
- Stop suspending licenses for failure to pay fines and fees and automatically restore licenses to individuals who currently have suspensions.