New Florida Law Cracks Down On Driving Without a License 

If you drive without a license in Florida, there’ll be a hefty price to pay.

You have a driver’s license. You own your car. You want to be a responsible driver and be able to protect yourself and others should you get into a car accident, so you buy car insurance despite the pain of paying that bill each month. One of the reasons for the high cost of car insurance is the high cost of the uninsured motorist provision in these policies. In other words, you’re paying for people who drive without insurance. Many of these drivers are people who don’t have driver’s licenses. Some have lost their licenses and shouldn’t be on the road, and some are illegal immigrants or undocumented workers if that term makes you feel more comfortable. Either way, they’re people driving without licenses. HB 1589, a bill entitled Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License filed by State Representative Rachel Plakon, R-Seminole County, is fixing this problem by making what’s been a second-degree misdemeanor a third-degree felony after a third driving without a license conviction. 

State Representative Rachel Plakon, R- Seminole County

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This is an excellent piece of legislation for Floridians who want to feel safe on the road. It is another common-sense bill that should have bipartisan support but doesn’t. It passed along party lines in the House with 83 yeas and 31 nays. 

The Democrat arguments were like many debates on the house floor this session. The idea seems to be that the person breaking the law is the victim. The discussion ranged from people having suspended licenses but still needing to go to work to the cost of getting a driver’s license. Representative Plakon addressed the cost issue by pointing out that the cost of obtaining a driver’s license is forty-eight dollars plus an additional six-dollar service fee, and some organizations can help with these costs if need be. Plakon funded one such organization through a one-million-dollar appropriation in the last session. 

In Florida, on July 1, 2024, unlicensed drivers will be given harsher penalties.

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Under the bill, criminal penalties are now:

-Second-degree misdemeanor upon first conviction.

-First-degree misdemeanor upon a second conviction.

-First-degree misdemeanor and must serve ten days in jail for a third or subsequent conviction. 

-Third-degree felony, upon a third or subsequent conviction, if the current or most recent offense of driving while license suspended or revoked (DWLS) relates to a specified driving offense. 

The bill does not apply to a violation relating to the operation of golf carts. The bill provides an effective date of July 1, 2024. 

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