David Dunn-Rankin

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about how 10 percent of all the drivers on Florida roads are driving on a suspended license. This epidemic of suspended licenses is because Florida imposes heavy court fees we expect everyone to pay, regardless of their income. If you can’t pay your fees and fines, you lose your license.

Readers responded. This week and next week, I will share reader comments.

“Thank you for your recent article which addressed the ‘crime’ of the many people driving with a suspended driver’s license. It needed to be promulgated and it needs desperately to be changed.

“I volunteered for the ministry at the local jail where I met with the inmates weekly. I have remained in touch with many after their release. One woman was incarcerated for a rather minor offense and served less than a year in jail. She was unable to pay her fines resulting from sentencing and while she was incarcerated, those fines tripled.

“The original fines were less than $1,000 but after being doubled and put into the collection agency, while she was incarcerated, totaled $4,500. Needless to say, she was unable to pay this. I am a retired woman of limited means but saw the dissolution of her life that was ahead of her had she not paid this.

“Upon payment she was able to get her driver’s license, drive to her new job and quickly add a second job to enable her to enrich her life.  There are many similar stories without such a happy ending.

“Senator Jeff Brandes, Republican in Saint Petersburg, has sponsored a bill that would eliminate this unjust law in Saint Petersburg. He is to be applauded for his insight and action to remediate this matter. Hopefully, it will soon be made a law in the state of Florida.

“Thanks to people like you and Senator Brandes we may see justice in this area yet. E.”

And there was this one from D.

“I had been at scheduled AA meetings at the jail weekly, however due to the ‘pandemic’ they have been suspended.

“We would have Alcohol Anonymous meetings weekly, with the majority of “inmates” sincere about the reason to be there! We have had limited good results of returning to a better life.

“All of the participants were either addicted to drugs or alcohol. There would be anywhere from 2 to 20 in attendance. The majority of them had a suspended or no driver’s license when they were released!

“The average case goes like this..... single male fathers a child, may or may not get married, is ordered by the court to pay child support, has salary attached for that amount, can’t support self and takes the easy way to make money, gets involved with dope!

“He now gets caught and arrested, LOSES HIS DRIVERS LICENSE, gets out of jail eventually can’t get a job, no way to get there, sells dope again and gets caught, back to jail! Mother and child desperately needing support, gets lost in the system, heartbreaking.

“This needs to be talked about. D.”

Share your thoughts.