Wheels of Justice
Unpaid child support means no CDL
I write articles for and about truck drivers and how the law affects them. Here is part of a letter I received in April from a driver in Tennessee.
This past August my CDL was suspended because I owe back child support to the state of Florida.
After contacting Division of Revenue (Child Support Office), I was told, “We are not preventing you from working. We are just suspending your driving privilege.
Last month, my $2,800 tax refund was intercepted by the Division of Revenue in Florida. My license expires in June.
I have lost over $40,000. My credit has been destroyed. Unemployment is not helping. My license hasn’t been reinstated.
Do I have legal argument? What can I do?
Signed “Homeless Trucker”
Homeless Trucker, you do not have any argument in court to have your CDL reinstated. In fact, you will not be able to have your CDL reinstated until you pay your past due child support in full or enter into an agreement to make regular payments to Florida Child Support.
And no, you cannot file suit and expect to win. You lost your license not because you violated any traffic law, but because you failed to pay the child support ordered by the court, which makes you in contempt of court. The legislatures of all the states have written and passed laws that require the licensing offices in their state to suspend or withdraw any license issued by the state for failure to pay child support. The governors have signed those laws, and the courts have found they are constitutional and enforceable by the states to help protect and provide for the children that have been abandoned by a parent. That means that the plumber, the mason, the doctor and even the lawyer will be unable to renew or keep their license to practice should they fail to pay child support.
The states and the courts have set the scales of justice against you in this case. You can find a job that does not require a license to work, but the state will eventually find you and seek to garnish your wages. You can also contact the court and discuss entering into a payment arrangement, or you can pay your child support in full.
If you believe that you don’t owe that child support, then you’ll have to change your name, social security number and job—everything that makes you who you are. That seems like too high a price to pay just so you don’t have to pay child support.
Jim C. Klepper is president of Interstate Trucker Ltd., an organization that provides legal defense protection to commercial drivers. Jim is a lawyer who focuses on transportation law and the trucking industry in particular. He works to answer your legal questions about trucking, and he holds his Commercial Drivers License.