Petit Theft DL Suspension

Let's face it: "We the People" have elected a legislature that has nothing better to do than to think up new ways to punish it's citizens. After reading this statute, it should become more clear why our government cannot manage it's finances or balance the budget--it's too busy fabricating new ways to make it even more difficult to maintain a job.  So, even though shoplifting and petit theft and grand theft all carry punishments including probation and jail time--why not tack on a driver's license suspension?

Section 812.0155 of the Florida Statutes is entitled "suspension of driver's license following an adjudication of guilt for theft," and it does exactly what it says.   Our great State of Florida permits it's judges to order the suspension of the driver's license of any person convicted of a theft offense.  This breaks down as indicated below.... 

First offenders need not have their license suspended, it's optional.  The statute indicates that the judge "may order" the suspension of a first offender.  Also, the statute requires the theft charge be an adjudication of guilt, thus, a withhold of adjudication will not result in a DL suspension.  

Another interesting fact about this statute is that the value of the item(s) stolen is irrelevant--a $1.25 cupcake can suspend your driver's license just as much as a $250 iPad.  A first conviction for petit theft permits a DL suspension for a period up to 6 months.  This phrase "up to 6 months" means that, in theory, a judge may issue a 30 day suspension, a 60 day suspension, or whatever period the judge sees fit.  But, upon entering the suspension, the statute requires the court to confiscate the driver's license of the person adjudicated guilty and forward the license to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.  (With government efficiency at questionable levels, what are the chances of this going right??)

It gets worse for repeat offenders.  For those on their second (or more) conviction for theft, the statute requires the court to issue a one year DL suspension--no more, no less.  And there's bad news for offenders under the age of 18, as the statute permits longer suspensions for the young offenders, without regard to whether or not adjudication was withheld.  This statute also creates even more problems for those folks who already have their license suspended, because the statute requires the DMV to add the theft DL suspension onto the end of any current suspensions, thus extending the total suspension time.

Petit theft and shoplifting are the silent job killers out there.  You could have a prior murder charge and be treated better on job interviews than those folks with a prior theft charge.  That being said, its unfortunate that this statute creates even more punishment for offenders who are already going to have a tough time finding work.  Let's face it, its pretty tough to work without driving (with the exception of, maybe, Downtown Orlando).  So, if you're facing a theft charge, make sure your defense attorney is familiar with this statute--you don't want any sort of DL suspension surprises.
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