Florida is one of the states with the highest rates of suspended driver’s licenses. Most people with a suspended driver’s license in the Sunshine State had it suspended due to court debt. This has been a controversial subject for quite some time, and some legislators say that the time has come to end suspensions for unpaid fines and fees.
If your license has been suspended in Florida, it may have several negative impacts on your life which you didn’t anticipate. The advised course of action is to contact a suspended license lawyer to resolve the issues that led to your suspension so that you can keep driving legally and safely.
Millions of Licenses Suspended, Few for Traffic Violations
According to the Orlando Sentinel, nearly 2 million drivers in Florida have had their licenses suspended for unpaid court debt rather than unsafe driving. In Miami-Dade County, 250,000 license suspension notices were sent for unpaid fines and fees, while just slightly more than 2,000 (less than 1% of all suspended licenses) were for traffic-specific reasons like drunk driving.
How License Suspensions Hurt Individuals and Communities
Legislators and citizens alike understand that suspending the licenses of safe drivers leads to several issues while doing little to reimburse the courts.
The time diverted from law enforcement as officers are citing drivers for driving with a suspended license is valuable time that police could dedicate to fighting serious crimes, responding to emergency situations, or writing traffic tickets for people who drive dangerously.
Additionally, suspending licenses takes away the ability of citizens to keep a job and take care of their families, which hurts the economy in the long-term. People with a suspended license face a harsh and critical choice: abide by the law and refrain from driving or risk getting caught in order to keep their job, get their kids to school, take their sick relatives to medical appointments, and more. It’s a challenging decision that can’t be made lightly, as families stand to suffer when the primary source of income can no longer work or run the household.
House Bill 903 Would Protect Driver’s Licenses
Those who miss work and are left jobless can’t begin to pay off the fines that triggered their license suspensions in the first place. This misguided policy has brought legislators together to find a solution to end the practice of suspending licenses over debt.
Naples Rep. Byron Donalds introduced a bill that would give the people who need it most an opportunity to keep their driver’s licenses when they can’t pay all their court fees upfront. The bill would create a standardized process for the creation of affordable payment plans.
Driving with a Suspended License May be a Criminal Matter
Florida’s courts are overwhelmed with cases of driving with a suspended license or “DWLS.” A DWLS could be a civil traffic infraction that may trigger a fine or a serious criminal matter, depending on whether the defendant knew the DMV had suspended their license before getting a ticket.
A charge of DWLS with Knowledge implies that the driver knew about the suspension and decided to drive regardless. This charge is a misdemeanor offense which could lead to the following penalties upon a conviction:
- Up to 60 days in jail for a first offense
- Up to a year in jail for a second offense
- A fine of up to $500 for a first offense
- A fine of up to $1,000 for a second offense
A person who drove with a suspended license but did not know his license was suspended may receive a traffic citation and a fine. They could also face 3 points on their driver’s license unless they successfully challenge the violation.
Fight for Your Driver’s License with The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel
Thousands of traffic stops are conducted daily in South Florida, and there’s always a chance that you can get caught driving with a suspended license. If this happens, protect your driving privileges with the help of an experienced West Palm Beach suspended license lawyer.
Attorney Brian P. Gabriel has challenged countless traffic tickets throughout his career as a reliable and dependable criminal defense lawyer. With a free consultation, you can start to learn how to best defend your actions in traffic court. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete a contact form.