Get Bad Drivers off our roads, but not good ones you dislike
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record (or should I say defective audio chip) these days. This is the 4th article I’ve written on the subject of Florida’s dumb law (see www.DumbLaw.org), 322.126(2), (3). This is the law that allows “any person” to report in confidence any Florida driver as being physically or mentally impaired and be held harmless from any civil or criminal liability even if it can be proven it was done with malicious intent.
No one is a greater advocate than I for removing bad drivers from Florida’s roads. I see them daily and am convinced that they are responsible for a large percentage of highway deaths, injuries, property damage and soaring insurance rates. But I’m also a strong advocate of the facts that the end doesn’t always justify the means and that everyone should be held accountable for their wrongful acts.
Last Friday, I had a very productive meeting with Representative Irving Slosberg of Florida’s 90th district in Boca Raton. He impressed me very much with his openness to my suggestions. I conversed with him and his two aides for about 45 minutes. His office is at 9045 La Fontana Boulevard, Suite 117. When I walked in the front door there was no one in the front office. I heard a dog barking in the back and Irv came out with his dog, Soldier, a fine looking Terrier, on a leash. He asked me if I like dogs and said, “Very much”. Soldier joined the meeting and anybody who loves dogs this much has to be a good guy. I also learned that I didn’t even need an appointment because Irv Slosberg has an open door policy. Anybody who needs help can just walk into his office at any time. This is very rare for a politician and, before I left, I told Irv that we needed more guys like him in Washington D.C.
During our conversation he called one of the higher ups of the FHSMV (Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle department). This FHSMV person was aware of me and told Irv Slosberg that he was the fourth caller about the “Earl Stewart’s problem”. This person, not surprisingly, was not at all sympathetic to my position. He pointed out that the informants were not anonymous as I had incorrectly stated, but were “only” confidential. He is exactly correct, there is a shade of difference between the definitions of confidential and anonymous. Because the FHSMV knows the name of the informant but won’t tell anybody else, including the accused, the informant is confidential. Anonymous would mean that not even the FHSMV would know the name of the informant. Of course, the net effect is exactly the same because the informant is held harmless even if the motive for turning in a driver was purely malicious. It makes no difference if the FHSMV knows the identity of the informant if they will not tell anybody else…not the accused, not the accused’s lawyer, the police, or even a judge. And, if through a fluke, the identity was known and it could be proven the intent was malicious, the informer is held harmless from civil suit or criminal liability.
Representative Slosberg was incensed when I explained to him why I believed that I knew the person who had informed on me did so for revenge and why I’m 99.9% sure that I know who he is. He agrees with me that this is the part of the law that must be changed. A person who takes it upon himself to try to have another’s driving privileges revoked must be held accountable if this is done falsely and with malicious intent.
However, Irv Slosberg did not think that my going public with my opposition to this bad law was a good idea. He felt that the more people who know about this law, the greater the potential for abuse. I have to agree with him that more awareness of this bad law will generate more abuse. But I can’t agree that this justifies keeping quiet about it. In fact, if more people like me are willing to stand up and be counted, we may be able to expedite changes in this law. This law has been on the books too long, seventeen years, and the reason it’s been there so long is that people only became aware of the law when they fell victim to it. Most of the victims never responded to the letter from the FHSMV and continue to drive their cars, but now with no license and no insurance. They don’t speak out because of the same reason they don’t take the driving, written, hearing, and eye tests…fear. Who wouldn’t be afraid of even the remotest chance to lose their driving privileges? Why not gamble that a policeman will never stop you especially since most people have never been stopped before…especially if you’re a good driver. Would you take a chance that some FHSMV bureaucrat may mistakenly fail you in some part of the test if you didn’t have to? God knows government bureaucrats make lots of mistake…we read and hear about them in the new every day. The letters from the FHSMV are mailed out regular mail, not certified as they should be. Who’s to say your letter wasn’t lost in the mail? In fact, I’m certain that some letters are lost in the mail and some letters are accidentally thrown out, what with all of the junk mail we receive nowadays. This means that there are probably also lots of drivers without licenses that don’t even know that their licenses are suspended.
Please sign my petition at www.DumbLaw.org. Next Tuesday, I will be taking my driving, written, eye, and hearing tests and, of course, I will pass them all and retain my license. Don’t sign this to help me, but sign this petition for those who can’t or won’t stand up because they’re afraid. Sign this petition because this law is un- American because the state should not protect someone when they maliciously attack another by concealing their identity and shielding them from all civil and criminal liability.