Florida Senator Jeff Brandes offers bill to reform driver license suspension rules

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Yesterday, January 6, 2016, Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) announced SPB 7046, related to penalties and fees, has been filed. The proposed legislation will dramatically reform the driver license suspension and revocation process in Florida, and follows a series of hearings by Senator Brandes in the Transportation Committee on the topic.

“Losing a driver license is a devastating penalty which most heavily impacts those with the least ability to afford it. For years the state has piled on driver license suspensions as an additional sanction for various non-driving related activity,” stated Senator Brandes. “This legislation will help thousands of Floridians who are caught in a relentless cycle of debt within the legal system. This bill will reduce a major burden on our courts from license suspensions, and it will give many Floridians a means to get back to work.”

The proposal follows media reports last year detailing the substantial number of driver license suspensions occurring annually in Florida. Following those reports, Senator Brandes and the Transportation Committee held several hearings and heard testimony by the State Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, elected Public Defenders, and various Clerks of Court. This proposal is a result of those hearings, and it is designed to radically reduce the number of suspended and revoked driver licenses. The bill establishes an alternative system for sanctions for the more than 1.2 million driver license suspensions annually.

SPB 7046 removes suspension and revocation penalties for certain non-driving-related offenses. Individuals who would have their licenses suspended today for many financial related issues will instead be issued a hardship license. The reform package also reforms a controversial surcharge in law for fines or fees which are sent to collections, and clearly establishes the right of a defendant in financial hardship to enter into community service as an alternative method of payment. Finally, the bill eliminates the felony criminal charge for a third or subsequent driving while license is suspended or revoked resulting from a defendant’s inability to pay a fine or fee.

My two days as a Lyft driver

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Some who know me well, know I like to do “experiments” and experience things a bit out of the ordinary. For instance, since it has become mainstream to have a smartphone, I went almost all summer with a “dumb” phone — no camera, no apps. It was both liberating and occasionally frustrating. I have since come to my senses and am again using a smartphone.

As part of another experiment, this past Friday, September 11, 2015, I was approved to become a Lyft driver. If you are not familiar with Lyft, it is very similar to Uber, but a bit more casual and IMO, fun. If you do not know what Uber is, when even my mother knows what it is, then I can only assume you are not from this Earth, in which case, this post will be meaningless. This past summer, all around good guy Earl Stewart of Earl Stewart Toyota gave me the idea, as he had become an Uber driver. As well, I have written extensively about the regulations facing ride share tech companies like Lyft and Uber for some time, even including a couple of posts here on this blog. So, I thought I would immerse myself in this new age of sharing rides which has the taxi companies all up in a huff. And just to qualm any fears, I did not drive around town with a large pink mustache attached to the grill of my BMW.

Uber and Lyft drivers come from all walks of life, some are retired, some are millionaires looking for interesting experiences, some are young people trying to get by and some are your typical “soccer moms” who are looking to earn a little extra money for the family. Heck, even politicians  have become Uber drivers.

I started off early Saturday morning and my Lyft ride was this person’s first Lyft – so we already had something in common since he was my first Lyft. What a great guy — interesting and fun. I picked him up on A1A as he was leaving his girlfriend’s place and needed a Lyft to his office. We had a great conversation on the ride to West Palm Beach. My next Lyft was for a great young guy, in college for sports medicine and aspring to become a sports doctor and open a sports management company in the future. He was leaving an overnight shift and needed a Lyft home — super interesting guy.Another was taking a young guy to work in Boynton Beach who had come to Florida by way of San Diego following a girl. According to him, it was a big mistake as he was now “stuck” in South Florida without the girl and without his prior job, which he loved — working on a sports fishing boat.  My last Lyft of the day (I was only on the driver platform for two hours) was driving a nice young lady to her work in the West Palm Beach area.

All and all, though I was only out two hours, I derived this could be a good way for someone needing some extra cash, or someone to do this full time. I have calculated I would net $13 per hour after car expenses, which is more than many low-wage Palm Beachers make. If they had a quality car, like one from Earl Stewart Toyota (shameless plug, even though I have no financial connection to the company), they could do alright. Admittingly, I did not drive during the reportedly more lucrative times (at night during the weekends and special events) so the $ per hour number could rise substantially if drivers drove during those times. One friend said he made over $1,000 driving on a recent Friday and Saturday night.

I went out Sunday, intermittingly — in the morning for a time, mid-day, and for an hour later in the afternoon. I had six Lyfts which were mostly people going to or from work and one Lyft was from a group of people leaving the beach. I ended the weekend doing ten Lyfts and getting a 5 out of 5 rating from those who rode with me.

What I discovered in this admittingly limited window into the ridesharing world, is that most people using Lyft (and I assume all ridesharing companies) are hardworking, honest people just looking to get ahead in this world. It was inspiring, frankly.

I do not know how much more Lyfting I will do, but overall it was fun and interesting. As you can also guess, I feel the regulation stranglehold our elected officials are trying to use to ruin the future of transportation is appalling. Those calling for more regulation are doing so at the behest of the old, traditional cab companies, which according to everyone I’ve asked, offer far worse service than either Lyft or Uber. Rather than scale up their businesses, they are attempting to use the strong arm of the government to shut down their competition. Commissioners say they are doing it in the name of “safety” but NOT ONE person has come forward to offer ANY evidence Lyft or Uber are any less safe than traditional taxi companies and there is even mounting evidence that companies like Lyft and Uber are making things SAFER on the roads. Heck, even MAAD has come out in support of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft. Bureaucrats have temporarily succeeded in beating down the high-tech newcomers in Broward County where Lyft and Uber are  no longer permitted by the county government to pick up rides and the county is far worse off for doing so. Fortunately, Broward County Commissioners are meeting this month to fix what they screwed up due to high demand from citizens who are fans of both Uber and Lyft.

One last thing, if you want to try Lyft, use this link to get a free $20 first ride!

IF you think you may want to become a driver, use this link to get a BONUS!

BROWARD UPDATE: Since this blog post, Lyft and Uber are legally back in Broward County with the added ability to pick up and drop off and the Fort Lauderdale Airport and the cruise port.

GENERAL UPDATE: I will be doing another Lyft experiment the week of November 9, 2015, driving for 40+ hours to see what it is like full-time. What can I make financially? Will I continue to enjoy it or will it seem more like a job? Find out the following week when I post here on my blog. Follow this blog to find out!

Florida Gubernatorial candidate fights Real ID in court tomorrow

Florida Gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie continues his fight against Real ID and the State of Florida in court tomorrow, July 18, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. He will be in a hearing at the Pinellas County Justice Center in Clearwater, Florida to dismiss the state’s charge against him for traveling for personal purposes without their permission. Should the judge rule in favor of his motion, then Real ID will have been found to be unconstitutional in Florida. If the judge denies the motion, there will be a jury trial in August. Wyllie is facing Rick Scott and the Democratic primary winner (Charlie Crist or Nan Rich) in the general election in November, 2014 to be Florida’s next governor.

Read the FULL story here.

How to drive free cars for life via Dave Ramsey

Free cars for life? With a little bit of planning and smart investing, you CAN do it. Financial expert Dave Ramsey teaches about this and much more in his high school and college curricula. Visit http://daveramsey.com/school to learn more.

Florida Gubernatorial candidate shows up in court

Libertarian Party of Florida Gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie was in court yesterday morning, May 4, 2014, fighting for all Floridians to travel in the state without giving up their Fourth Amendment rights. Wyllie pleaded “not guilty” in his case for driving without a license which he had voluntarily surrendered in 2011, rather than renewing it, which would have forced him to comply with the REAL ID Act of 2005. Wyllie’s next step is to go to trial in the case after pleading “not guilty” at yesterday’s hearing.

Read the rest of the story here.

#TBT I owned this car for about 4 months when I was 17. Why such a short period of time? Because it was such a piece of junk, it blew through nearly all my savings and I knew every tow company in and around Boca. Plus, people thought I was a hit man and anytime I approached they would cower in fear. I limped it to Delray where I bought a sensible used Toyota Corrola from Bill Chamberlain’s dad’s dealership.
Note: this pic was taken in what is now a neighborhood called The Cloisters when only 3 houses had been built and the builder went bankrupt. I would later move into this neighborhood in 1992 when it was nearly complete with new homes.

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