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Will FL lawmakers get rid of automatic driver’s license suspension for drug crimes?

According to a report released back in December, Florida is among a group of states that issue thousands of driver’s license suspensions every year for drug offenses. These suspensions occur under laws going back over 20 years. States began passing such laws back in the early nineties after a federal law made highway funding dependent on cracking down on drugs. Most states have since repealed their laws and seen a significant decrease in license suspensions.

States have chosen to get rid of these laws for several reasons. For one thing, the cost of license suspension is significant for the public. It can also be expensive for the defendant, and can leave them with significant transportation challenges. States also dropped the laws because they were found to be relatively ineffective in deterring drug crimes. 

Still, twelve states still have the practice, including Florida. Under Florida’s law, the law presumes a license suspension of at least one year, but suspensions can be appealed after six months. Defendants must pay a reinstatement fee, in addition to other court fines and fees, to begin driving again.

Fortunately, Florida is also one of the states in which lawmakers are considering way to relax the law. One bill currently under consideration would reduce the year-long suspension period to six months. The measure calls for license suspension to ultimately be set aside altogether.

Dealing with the consequences of drug charges can be challenging enough without also having to deal with a driver’s license suspension. Certainly, those who are facing prosecution for drug crimes should always work with experienced legal counsel to protect their rights with respect to the criminal charges, as well as any related legal issues that arise. 

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