February 20, 2020

Drivers license suspension for unpaid fines is too harsh [Orlando Sentinel]

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Florida will suspend a person’s drivers license if they fail to pay court fines and fees for civil and criminal traffic infractions, such as a speeding ticket or an expired tag.

While drivers license suspension has long been used as a compliance tool to collect payments, the primary source of funding for the state’s Clerks of Courts, this practice only works for those who have the ability to pay. For the many Floridians who cannot afford to pay their court fines and fees, drivers license suspension only compounds their financial distress.

In 2017, Florida suspended the driving privileges of roughly half a million people for failure to pay non-criminal traffic violations, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute.

Read more on orlandosentinel.com

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