Florida drivers pay $7 million a year for driver's ed program that doesn't exist

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Every time one of Florida's 14 million licensed drivers pays to renew their driver's license, they pay a 50 cent fee for drivers' education.

That fee has been raking in $7 million a year for a program that no longer exists, and has not for three decades.

WFTV learned the money is still being collected and has been collecting in Florida's general fund.

Wolfgang Halbig, a former state trooper, believes in mandatory driver's education.

He worked to get a driver's license fee passed in the 1970s that would pay for it for 50 cents a year.

Just a few years later, lawmakers ended mandatory driver's education, but the fee did not go away.

"We abandoned driver's education, but guess what? We didn't remove the fees," Halbig said.

The driver's education advocate said the fee should have disappeared with the program.

WFTV asked state Sen. David Simmons how this happened.

"It was originally intended with the best of intentions. There are other demands, and it went into general revenue," Simmons said.

Simmons said he will look into correcting the problem.

"That's the reason it's great that people bring this up," Simmons said.

Halbig said the worst part is he believes teens have died in crashes because they didn't take driver's education.

Now, he said, he knows the money was there.

"When a parent grabs you, they know what it is, and it's not good news. And you have to take them to the morgue to show them their child. Come on, we can do better than that," Halbig said.

Halbig would like to see mandatory driver's education restored in Florida.