Florida License Suspensions Laws: What Are They?
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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021
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Florida has some unique laws. Unlike in some states where your license won’t get suspended for failure to pay a ticket, if you don’t pay a ticket in the state of Florida, your license will get suspended – and it will happen relatively fast.
David Haenel, an attorney based on Florida’s west coast whose practice focuses on suspended license issues, provided the answer. According to Haenel, “If you receive a ticket and you don’t do anything with it; expect to have some sort of a notification from the DHSMV (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) within about 90 days saying that your license is going to be suspended because you failed to comply with the traffic ticket.”
Florida laws are stricter than other states
Florida is fairly strict when it comes to license suspension laws while other states tend to be a bit more lax. We asked Haenel to explain why. “I think Florida has been known for years as more of a transient state. A lot of people move here from other areas, especially the Northeast and Midwest. Florida was very liberal throughout the years, but the legislature in the last 10 or 15 years has created all these different ways for people to lose their licenses and it’s just created an unbelievable number of people don’t have valid licenses.”
Non-residents: Don’t expect to receive a Florida license without a clean record
If you’re not from Florida, obtaining a Florida license might be a bit more difficult than you think. Haenel explained why:
I’ve discovered that when people move here, they attempt to get a Florida license and they are run through something called the National Driver Registry, or the NDR. What we’ve been discovering is that these people have suspensions out of state, so Florida won’t even issue them a license until such time as they clear up whatever is suspending them out of state.
You run into this a lot. I can’t tell you how many times I speak to somebody who comes down to Florida with a valid New Jersey license, for example. They go to get their Florida license and think it will just be handed to them. Well, Florida runs them through this NDR and they say, ‘No, you have a hit out of North Carolina from 1999.’ The person’s says, ‘What are you talking about?’ So, then they have to contact North Carolina and clear up that issue.
If they can’t do it or they can’t do it fast enough, the next thing you know, they get stopped for driving while their license is suspended and now we’re in criminal court over a ticket that wasn’t paid in North Carolina. The problem is that people will still continue to drive until they get opped.
Florida’s DMV getting better
Anyone who has spent time in the Department of Motor Vehicles knows how frustrating the process can be. Haenel says this is an area that Florida does surprisingly well. He explained, “Any time you’re dealing with an administrative agency, especially with as many licensed drivers as we have in this state, it’s daunting. I sat at the DHSMV today for several hours trying to take care of a client issue and the same questions kept coming up over and over again to these folks. Florida is actually pretty good in the fact that they contracted out with the local tax collectors’ offices to do miniscule DHSMV type functions. They charge a convenience fee for that, but it takes a little bit of a burden off the Department of Motor Vehicles and their offices. However, there’s still a lot of progress to be made.”
If your license has been suspended in Florida, contact an attorney whose practice focuses on license suspension issues. Click here, to contact a Florida criminal attorney.