We don’t have to tell you that drugs, both prescription and illicit, are popular in Florida. While people may think that drugs are mostly used by gang members, the homeless, and people in the entertainment industry, that’s not the case. Drug use is common among high school students, college students, the lower class, the upper class, blue-collar workers, high-net-worth individuals, and everyone in between.
From the nightclub, to the boardroom, to the projects, to the back of a soccer mom’s van, drugs are deeply weaved into the fabric of our society.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the most commonly abused drugs include:
- Salvia divinorum
- Mescaline (Peyote)
Every day, thousands of Floridians use an illegal drug or take a prescription medication that was not legally prescribed to them. The problem is that if you’re violating one of Florida’s drug laws and you’re caught, you can be: 1) charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, 2) fined, 3) incarcerated, 4) and your driver's license can be taken away.
“My driver's license can be taken away if I’m convicted of a drug offense? I thought that could only happen with DUI!” Under Section 322.055 of the Florida Statutes, if you’re 18 or older and you’re convicted of possession, sales, drug trafficking, or conspiracy to possess or sell drugs, your Florida driver's license will be revoked.
But, how long will such a person’s driver's license be revoked? Under Sec. 322.055(1), the offender’s driver's license will be revoked for one year, until he or she has been evaluated, or if necessary, until the offender successfully completes an approved drug treatment and rehabilitation program approved by the Department of Children and Families.
Can I Get a Restricted License?
Since the state’s jails and prisons are overcrowded, prosecutors and judges are focused on incarcerating violent criminals. In effect, it’s not uncommon for someone convicted of a drug offense, especially a first possession offense, to be placed on probation.
As two of the standard conditions of probation, the offender usually has to be employed and support their dependents, but this is difficult if you can’t drive to work. This is where a restricted driver's license is crucial. The law allows the court to grant an offender a license for driving for "employment purposes" or for "business purposes only," but not for any other reason, providing the individual is “otherwise qualified for such a license.”
If a person’s driver's license has been suspended because he or she was convicted of a drug-related offense, the individual may petition for a restricted or unrestricted license after six months, depending on how long their license was revoked for. There is no way that an offender can obtain a restricted license sooner than six months from the start of the revocation or suspension.
The Rules of Having a Restricted License
When a driving privilege is restricted to business purposes only, it “means a driving privilege that is limited to any driving necessary to maintain livelihood, including driving to and from work, necessary on-the-job driving, driving for educational purposes, and driving for church and for medical purposes.” The term “restricted for employment purposes” is more narrow, limiting an individual’s driving to going to and from work (as well as any driving necessary for the person’s job or occupation). "Driving for business purposes” has a little more flexibility; under that definition, the individual can drive to and from work, but they can also drive to school, to the doctor's office, or to church (or any religious service).
Other Reasons a License Can Be Suspended or Revoked
In addition to drug convictions, there are a number of reasons why a person’s driver's license can be suspended or revoked in Florida, including:
- Failing to comply with a traffic summons;
- Failing to appear at a traffic summons;
- Failing to pay a fine;
- Failing to complete driver improvement school;
- Incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle;
- Accumulating too many points on driving record (12 or more points);
- A non-DUI-related violation resulting in serious bodily injury or death;
- Fraudulently obtaining a driver's license;
- Being delinquent on child support;
- Inadequate vision;
- Being a Florida habitual traffic offender (HTO);
- Having unpaid traffic tickets; and
- A conviction for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The seasoned drug crime attorneys at Thomas & Paulk, P.A. have handled thousands of drug offenses that put our clients' licenses and livelihoods at risk. We've been able to help our clients avoid conviction, allowing them to keep their freedom and driving privileges. If you've been charged with a drug offense or you're hoping to apply for a restricted license, call our firm. We can argue your case before the court or other administrative authorities to help you get your license back.
Are you facing drug-related charges in Tampa? If so, you’re facing the possibility of fines, imprisonment, and driver’s license revocation. To speak with a Tampa drug possession attorney who is also a former Hillsborough County prosecutor, contact us today!