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Intersection: Hardship Licenses

Last year, 1.7 million drivers license suspensions were issued in the state of Florida.
Last year, 1.7 million drivers license suspensions were issued in the state of Florida.

Hundreds of thousands of Floridians have their licenses suspended every year. Losing your license could mean the difference between having a job and unemployment. In some cases, drivers who lose their license can apply for a hardship license.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, (R-St. Petersburg), says license suspensions put a burden on the poor.  But he says one of the biggest barriers to reforming the system is the fees generated when people apply to get their licenses back.

"We are funding our clerk system on the backs of largely the poor who can't afford to pay their court cost and therefore get caught into this suspended license snowball," says Brandes.

Barry University law professor and former state prosecutor Eang L Ngov tells Intersection there are many ways to lose your license, like too many points on your driving record or a DUI.

"Interestingly, failure to pay child support would also lead to suspension of a driver's license," says Ngov.

Criminal Defense Attorney Rachel Mattie with the Umansky Law Firm says almost all of her DUI clients apply for a hardship license.

"The majority of people who get a DUI and the next day they bond out, if they can't get to work they're going to lose their job," says Mattie.

Mattie says clearer directions for people with suspended licenses would also improve the process.

"If we can kind of cut out the middle man with the collection agency that is making it more expensive for people, I think that would be a huge start," says Mattie.