Stepping on the Gas: Accelerating Florida’s Growth by Restoring the Freedom to Drive


If you’re a hard-working, safe driver who’s struggling to make a fine or fee payment, Florida can take your license and, with it, your ability to drive and work. Losing your license makes everyday tasks like caring for your family or buying groceries impossible and can trigger years of financial hardship and unemployment, which prevents people from paying their debt and moving on. Many families are forced to forgo basic necessities just to try and pay down court debt.

Analyzing county-level data from across the state, FFJC’s latest report on debt-based license suspensions in Florida finds that over 700,000 Floridians have a suspended driver’s license — not because they are dangerous drivers, but simply because they could not afford to make a fine or fee payment.

These debt-based license suspensions are exacerbating the statewide labor shortage and hindering Florida’s economic growth. While nearly half of all Florida’s small businesses report being unable to fill employee vacancies, license suspensions are significantly shrinking the labor pool available to employers. One in every 24 adults in Florida are unable to legally drive to work in a state where almost 90% of people drive to work. Critical jobs in trucking, construction, and hospitality are going unfilled.

Because of Florida’s suspension practices, all Floridians pay higher car insurance premiums—on average about $78 more per year. This, combined with unaffordable rate increases after a suspension, has led to Florida having one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the country.

Key Findings

  • Driver’s license suspension notices for nonpayment of fines and fees affect over one million people in Florida each year. As of November 2022, 716,383 Floridians cannot legally drive because of unpaid fines and fees—1 in 24 driving-age adults.
  • It takes years for most people to regain their license once it is suspended: 75% of driver’s licenses suspended in 2016 remained suspended two years later.
  • About 3 in 4 driver’s license suspension notices in Florida are for unpaid fines and fees and unrelated to dangerous driving, while only 3% are for dangerous driving such as DUIs.
  • Between 2017-2021, more than 5.1 million suspension notices were issued for unpaid court debt.
  • Florida is losing approximately $500 million in consumer spending annually due to debt-based license suspensions.

Read and download the full report here.