The Florida Senate Appropriations
Committee unanimously approved a bill April 20 to get bad drivers to help
rescue the state’s 20 trauma centers.
It now heads to the full Senate.
Finding additional funds for the
state’s trauma centers is a high priority
for state lawmakers this year.
S2842, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, would have drivers
shoulder more of the burden for the $44 million Florida pays each year for
the emergency care, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
The proposal would increase fines and fees as much as $1,000 for drivers who
run red lights, cause crashes, drive a vehicle or boat under the influence
of alcohol or otherwise rack up points on their licenses.
If signed into law, the bad driver fees could generate as much as $35 million
the first year and $85 million in subsequent years for trauma centers.
A driver’s first drunken
driving offense could result in a $500 tax paid annually, in addition to
other traffic fines. Those convicted of a second
drunken driving offense could see the annual tax jump to $1,000. Drivers with
a blood alcohol level of 0.2 percent would face a $1,000 annual tax.
Removed from the bill were proposed higher fines for driving without insurance
or without a license. Some legislators felt the provision targeted poor people.