Welcome to Florida Sign by DonkeyHotey is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Over $500 million per year in consumer spending is lost due to driver’s license suspensions in Florida, a new report from the Fines and Fees Justice Center finds. This is another big reason for legislators in Florida, and across the country, to end this flawed practice.

The report also reveals that all Floridians pay more for insurance, “on average about $78 more per year — at a rate that is nearly 61% above the national average.”

Further, 75% of license suspensions in Florida have nothing to do with driving safety-related offenses. Meaning suspension is solely being used to extract payment, with no benefit to public safety.

These findings add to the many reasons numerous states have been reforming, and ending the use of driver’s license suspension as a tool to collect court debt.

The basic idea is that taking someone’s license away until they pay back their debt will incentivize them to pay up. The problems with this are many, one is that people are going to have difficulty getting to work without a car; another is this is done to people who are not guilty of a driving safety-related offense. Where the data exists to be analyzed, the collection rate for the courts also remain low, meaning they have to spend a lot on notifications and enforcement in order to get a dollar of debt payment back.

An inefficient system for debt collection, driver’s license suspension also turns police into the ultimate tax collector. And if someone with a suspended license decides to tempt fate and drive, they can get charged with the additional serious offense of driving without a license. This creates crime out of desperation, and a cycle of offenses where no public safety threat warranted the suspension in the first place.

Florida has taken small steps to alleviate the negative impacts of suspensions, and hopefully will take on larger reforms this session.

Read more from Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist on this issue in The Examiner: “America’s stealth tax system makes commuting to work a crime.”