Florida Bill Would Crack Down on Irresponsible Drivers

Police say that makes their job more dangerous and potentially puts your life at risk too. Now the issue is getting the attention of state lawmakers.

One out of every 17 drivers in Florida is behind the wheel even though they have a suspended or revoked license. LT John Bagnardi says those motorists are not only breaking the law, they’re more likely to run if police try to pull them over, and that can lead to crashes and even fatalities.

LT John Bagnardi with the Florida Highway Patrol says, "Not to mention the insurance end of where if you are the victim of a crash or something like that, generally these people are not insured, either because they can’t get insurance."

Lawmakers are considering a bill to crack down on the scofflaws. It lets police impound your vehicle if they catch you on a suspended or revoked license, and send you to jail if you’re caught more than once.

More than 800,000 people in Florida are driving with suspended licenses or revoked licenses, and perhaps surprisingly, many of them don’t know it because people racking up tickets often don’t notify the DMV if they change their address, so they don’t get the suspension notice in the mail.

The proposed legislation would create a toll-free hotline to check your license status. Bill sponsor Ari Porth says that way there are no excuses, and authorities can get tough on lousy drivers.

Rep. Ari Porth, (D) Coral Springs, says, "Not only some mandatory minimum jail time, but also let’s take their car away. Let’s make sure they can’t do this again. Let’s impound or boot their car until they clean up their licenses."

Porth’s bill is named for Sheriff’s DEP Ryan Seya, hit and killed by a suspended driver as he ticketed another suspended driver during a traffic stop. Supporters hope a law with some real teeth in it will finally get through to people who continue to break the rules.

The bill creating a hotline to check your license status carries a $2 million price tag. and concerns about that cost has slowed the bill's progress.