Veterans harmed by driver's license suspensions | Opinion
2020欧洲杯正规平台Two years ago, the was founded to help local veterans address unresolved legal issues. We frequently assist veterans whose driver’s licenses are suspended.
2020欧洲杯正规平台Most of these suspensions are in place for financial reasons only — because the veteran owes court fines or fees, or the veteran cannot afford the license reinstatement costs. Of all the issues we deal with, navigating the process of driver’s license reinstatement is the most common one — and also one of the most challenging.
Pending legislation sponsored by Rep. Byron Donalds (HB903) and Sen. Tom Wright (SB1328) would go a long way toward reducing the number of veterans and other people impacted by driver’s license suspension.
2020欧洲杯正规平台This issue doesn’t only impact veterans. Two million Floridians — one in eight drivers — currently have a suspended license. For the vast majority of these drivers, the suspensions are based on unpaid fines and fees, not dangerous driving. These fees can set off a years-long cycle of poverty and punishment that’s nearly impossible to escape.
2020欧洲杯正规平台Driver’s license suspensions make life almost impossible. Since most Floridians drive to work and many jobs require a driver’s license, suspensions often cost people their jobs. Without a driver’s license, people can’t take their children to school, get to the grocery store, access health care or get to court. So some people have no choice but to continue driving. When they do, they risk a criminal conviction, more fines and fees, and incarceration.
For veterans at the legal clinics, the average cost to reinstate a suspended license is a remarkable $500. This does not include other costs, such as the expense of higher auto insurance rates or the cost of the driver’s license itself. The DMV doesn't allow partial payments or alternatives like community service for the reinstatement fees. These additional fees discourage many Floridians from even trying to reinstate their driver's license.
Driver’s license suspensions often undercut economic growth, limit the workforce and undermine public safety. Veterans and others who cannot work or who lose income because their licenses are suspended have less money to contribute to the economy.
2020欧洲杯正规平台Recognizing the ineffectiveness of license suspensions, policymakers are taking bipartisan action all over the country. In the past three years, Montana, Texas, Virginia, Mississippi, California, Idaho, Maine and the District of Columbia have enacted legislative reforms to tackle debt-based suspension. In 2020, Florida is one of 15 states that have already introduced legislation to end debt-based driver’s license suspensions.
2020欧洲杯正规平台The status quo is indefensible and reforms are long overdue. It's time for Florida lawmakers to put an end to the cruel and counterproductive practice of taking away licenses from people just because they can't afford fines or fees.
Dan Hendrickson is the founder of the Tallahassee Veterans Legal Collaborative. Matthew R. Willard, Esq., is president of Patriotic Partners of North Florida, a nonprofit that seeks to assist veteran owned/veteran friendly small businesses in North Florida.
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