Commissioner Eileen Higgins’ legislation to create the Driver’s License Suspension Task Force approved by Board of County Commissioners
MIAMI-DADE — Today (Oct. 8), the Board of County Commissioners approved legislation sponsored by Commissioner Eileen Higgins, District 5, to create the Driver's License Suspension Task Force. According to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Administrator’s Office, more than 630,000 individuals in Miami-Dade County have suspended licenses, with uncollected fees and costs amounting to over $320,500,000. An overwhelming majority of these suspensions are unrelated to the person’s ability to drive a car, but rather for failure to pay fees and fines.
“A suspended driver’s license has an impact far beyond simply driving,” said Commissioner Higgins. “It can make it nearly impossible to get to work, which can further hinder a person’s ability to pay their fines and fees. It can affect how they can perform everyday tasks, like going to see a doctor or taking their kids to school. This is not about charity. This is about improving our own County processes to make it easier for residents to pay their lawful debts so they never lose their right to drive.”
The Driver's License Suspension Task Force will engage in a comprehensive review of driver’s license suspensions in Miami-Dade and identify policies and practices to reduce them. Research from counties and municipalities around the country provide examples of policies that lead to increased revenue, reduced costs, and reduced suspensions. While much of this area of law is governed by state law, there are many reforms that can be implemented locally such as improving communications and improving payment plan options. In Miami-Dade, just 11 percent of fines and fees are collected within 15 months of being issued.
The Task Force will include representation from the following: Chief Judge of the Circuit Court for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit; the Clerk of Court; the Miami-Dade State Attorney, Public Defender, Mayor’s office, State Legislative Delegation, Association of Chiefs of Police, and League of Cities; the County’s Information Technology Department; the Dade-Miami Criminal Justice Council; and two community members. The Task Force will also seek input from residents who have been directly affected by the issue, as well as the greater community.
As the Chair of the Community Disparities Subcommittee, Commissioner Higgins hosted a presentation in July 2020 about the effects of driver’s license suspensions in Miami-Dade County. With the creation of the Driver’s License Suspension Task Force, Commissioner Higgins expects that their findings will go beyond helping residents pay their charges and get their driver’s licenses back, but it will have a lasting effect on improving the economic resilience of residents of Miami-Dade County.
For more information, please contact Francis Izquierdo, Communications Coordinator for Miami-Dade County District 5 Commissioner Eileen Higgins at [email protected] or 305-375-5924.