Florida is a leader in suspending driver’s licenses for nonviolent drug convictions, behind just Michigan and Virginia. According to a study by the Prison Policy Initiative, law enforcement officers suspend approximately 24,430 licenses over non-traffic related drug offenses. This is a whopping 13% of the more than 190,000 licenses suspended nationally for nonviolent drug offenses.
Offenses that May Lead to License Suspension in Florida
Florida drivers may be surprised to learn that they can lose their licenses for non-traffic related offenses. Aside from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, drives can lose their licenses over drug convictions; particularly non-violent drug convictions.
- Possession of a controlled substance (including marijuana)
- Sale of a controlled substance
- Trafficking in a controlled substance
- Conspiracy to possess, sell, or traffic in a controlled substance
Committing any of the above offenses may lead to a full license revocation under Section 322.055 of the Florida Statutes. The revocation will last for a year or until the defendant has been evaluated, and if it is deemed necessary, until the offender successfully completes an approved drug treatment and rehabilitation program. After six months, the individual may petition for a restricted license.
Why do police suspend licenses for crimes that do not involve driving?
As part of the U.S. “War on Drugs,” Congress threatened to reduce state highway funding if driver’s license suspensions were not imposed for drug crimes. Since then, most states have chosen to “opt out” of automatic license suspension for drug offenses, making use of an opt-out clause in the federal legislation that allows them to continue to receive funding. Florida is one of the 12 states that continues to impose automatic license suspensions for drug crimes.
Losing your driver’s license due to a suspension is a costly penalty. Drivers face several costs when it comes time to reinstate their licenses. In addition to hefty fees, losing your driver’s license can affect many areas of your life, including the job you rely upon to pay those fees and support yourself and your family. A report based on Prison Policy Initiative’s research reveals that suspending licenses for nonviolent drug convictions does not help people get back on their feet after paying their debt to society since license suspensions have zero effect on deterring drug crime.
What problems does suspending a driver’s license for drug offenses solve?
Suspending licenses for nonviolent drug offenses in Florida simply creates more problems. The “tough on crime” approach to drug crimes that developed in the 1980s has not been effective in reducing the number of drug offenses committed. In addition, it takes away from the taxpayer money and government resources necessary to keep the roads safe. Finally, being able to keep a job is one of the top ways offenders can stay out of jail. When your license is suspended and you are forced to rely on unreliable public transportation, it can be challenging to keep a job. Not having stable employment is fodder for repeat drug offenses.
Fight for Your License
While other states have allowed judges to use discretion when suspending licenses for drug crimes, license suspension is mandatory in Florida. A drug conviction is just one of many non-driving related offenses for which you can lose your driving privileges. If you are charged with a drug crime in West Palm Beach you can expect to have your license suspended if you do not seek prompt legal counsel from an experienced drug crime attorney. Call 561-622-5575 or contact us for a free legal consultation with attorney Brian Gabriel.