It took four months for the Court to suspend  Thelma Wagenhoffer’s driver’s license. Lucky she did not cause another accident in the meantime.  She was an accident waiting for a victim.

By that time her license had already been taken away by DMV. Remember her? She drove her car into the Publix grocery store on Belle Terre and injured several people who  could not react fast enough to get out of her way. She stepped on the gas instead of the brake.

This happens much more frequently than we  think, and always seems to involve an older driver who was panicky and hit the gas instead of the brakes.  After so many years of driving it is hard to understand that kind of mistake can happen so frequently

From reading the story on, it appears  Florida DMV had suspended her license in early July because it did not get records from her that it had requested. Under Florida law DMV can request medical records to see if a person is likely to be an unsafe driver and ig do, require them to re-test or lose their license. I represented a man who was nearly killed by a 92 year old woman driving her mini cooper on her way to cocktail hour.  He was in a coma for a week and nearly lost an arm and a leg.  Her license was revoked for medical reasons but she continued to drive anyway. I wrote about his case here.

I was surprised to see that the injured victims have already settled their cases against her, according to her defense lawyer.  They would have to prove that the grocery store was negligent for not having crash barriers in front of the store to prevent a driver from accidentally driving into the store.  Probably she had a small amount of insurance and her company decided to throw in the towel rather than drag it out.

The main reason people are required to pay for a driver’s license in Florida is the revenue  it generates.  There is also a safety reason, which gets screened for when someone can’t see the eye chart, or can’t pass the driving test.  But we all know the main thing is to get our money.  I have been driving in Florida since I was 16, and have never had to go back for another driving exam in more than 50 years.

So, unless a family member or a doctor turns in the unfit driver to DMV, it will take a major accident like this one and a police report to get the bad driver off the road.   More unfortunate people being maimed and scarred in needless accidents. What are the chances your taxes will be raised to enforce laws against drivers who have suspended licenses?  Zero.

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