On Tuesday, the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously passed legislation to reduce the number of driver’s licenses suspended annually in Florida.
The bipartisan bill (SB 302), sponsored by St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes and Democrat Darryl Rouson, would end the suspension of licenses for non-driving-related offenses.
If passed, it could dramatically reduce a large number of suspensions taking place statewide each year.
Right now, one can lose driving privileges in Florida over a number of nondriving offenses: truancy, writing graffiti, theft, vandalism, writing worthless checks and a minor’s possession of tobacco.
“It has a huge impact on public safety,” Rouson told his colleagues on the committee. “It’s costly and we know that three-fourths of the suspended, revoked drivers still drive. So it’s a public safety matter.”
“We don’t want to continue the self-perpetuating cycles of financial hardship that lead to revocations and other things,” he added.
The bill also modifies current law relating to debt collection for unpaid fees or fines, and clearly establishes the right of a defendant in financial hardship to use community service as an alternative method of payment. It also eliminates the felony criminal charge for a third or subsequent offense for driving on a license suspended because of a defendant’s financial hardship.
Brandes sponsored a similar bill in the Senate last year, as did Rouson in the House, along with Tampa’s Dana Young and Sarasota’s Greg Steube.
Like Rouson, Young and Steube each advanced to the Senate after last November’s election.