Sex Offenders and Predators Get Special Driver's License Status
For sex offenders and predators in Florida, registering no longer will be limited to the sheriff's office. The state is now requiring that they carry driver's licenses that show their offense.
The difference between an offender and a predator has to do with the severity of the crime --predators being more violent. Now both offenders and predators have to make an extra trip to the DMV, it isn't for a license but for a restraint.
Most people will go to great lengths to protect their children, and we expect the laws to do the same. On the first day of registration one sex offender was one of the first in Alachua County to make an appointment. "Offenders must now go get a new id...," he said.
The offender did not want to be identified. He says his offense took place when he was a teen, and has been compliant with registering his home address. But Florida's new statutes don't stop at the DMV.
Now in his late twenties the offender explained what the latest notice said, "The notification letter saying that certain kinds of offenders have to register twice a year, predators now have to register 4 times year," he added.
Law enforcement says the measure is meant to be preventative, alerting employers and schools. Detective Mike Powers of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office says, "They'll know it immediately when they provide a driver's license that this individual is a sexual offender or predator and having them in proximity to children might be risky."
Licenses will either show Florida statute number 775 for predators or 943 for offenders.
The offender says, "At first I can understand the point of view." He says his feelings are mixed, and that the registration may be going too far.
Only a fraction of the 400 who have registered in the county are violent predators, but the laws are meant to be broad enough to protect as many of the innocent as possible.
Powers adds, "...if we can prevent just one case from education then I believe it's a success."
Florida isn't alone in license designation, Alabama requires it as well. In October sex offenders and predators will be required to register their online identities, including email addresses and instant messenger handles.
By Stacey Samuel, WCJB TV20 News
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