Florida Traffic Ticket Information

Florida isn't just the Sunshine State, it's also the Citation State. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles's (DHSMV) Annual Uniform Traffic Citation Report, the state issued nearly three million traffic tickets in 2019. That's more than every other state except for New York and California.

Another DHSMV report shows that the agency makes an average of $93.31 from each driver every year. By itself, that number may not seem like much. But the state has almost 16 million drivers. That amounts to more than $1.4 billion dollars in revenue for the state each year.

Of the three million traffic tickets Florida issued in 2019, more than 350 thousand were criminally prosecuted. That means hundreds of thousands of people faced potential jail time over a traffic violation. In cases like criminal traffic tickets, fines are far from the only penalties you'll have to pay. You can face jail time, license revocation and more.

But Florida traffic tickets aren't all doom and gloom. They might still be costly and aggravating, but at least they're not as expensive as in Georgia. Florida also offers traffic school programs to decrease ticket fines and lower insurance rates.

At the end of the day, if you know the ins and outs of the traffic court process, you'll be miles ahead of the rest. If you decide to hire a traffic ticket attorney, your odds of success may be even higher.

Table of Contents

Florida Parking Tickets

Florida parking tickets fall under the jurisdiction of local courts, cities, and businesses. All in all, these jurisdictions issue millions of tickets every year. These tickets then go through the collections process in a wide variety of ways. Parking tickets issued by the government go to county court for dispute or conviction. That process is almost identical to the process for non-criminal traffic tickets, which we'll discuss later.

Private parking tickets are a whole nother beast. Universities and businesses can put parking tickets on just about anything left on their property. In 2011, the University of Florida (UF) issued more than 73 thousand parking tickets. In 2017, the University of Central Florida (UCF) issued more than 43 thousand. In each case, these tickets cost people more than a million dollars.

A common misconception is that you don't have to pay these private parking tickets. But failure to do so might result in severe consequences. Many of these parking tickets are a form of debt. That means they can go to debt collectors and harm your credit score. Private organizations can also revoke your parking pass, suspend your driving privileges on their property, or tow your vehicle.

Of course, the state has many more enforcement powers at its disposal. It can boot your vehicle, impound it, and sometimes even confiscate it to sell at auction. The only way to escape your parking ticket costs is to fight the ticket.

Florida Traffic Tickets

Traffic tickets in Florida come in three varieties: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Infractions have the least amount of penalties. Next up come misdemeanors. At the top of the list of penalties come felonies.

Another difference between the three categories is the court process. Traffic infractions have it the simplest, with a process that tends to be only a few minutes long. Court cases for criminal traffic offenses, however, can take days or even weeks to fully resolve.

But just because traffic infractions are the least bad doesn't mean they're not still pretty bad. In some cases, infractions can have severe consequences just the same as misdemeanors or felonies. That includes penalties like license suspension or revocation.

Infractions

Traffic infractions often have the lowest monetary and non-monetary penalties. That means a ticket for speeding will have fewer penalties than a ticket for eluding the police. However, both violations can result in you losing your license and increasing your insurance rates.

The main fact that sets infractions apart from criminal tickets is that infractions can never impose jail time. If a court finds you guilty of committing a traffic infraction, you won't have to worry about jail. Of course, you will still have to worry about expensive fines, fees, and other costs.

Misdemeanors and Felonies

Misdemeanors and felonies are what we call criminal traffic tickets. Misdemeanors tend to constitute offenses that are serious but not as grave and terrible at felonies. These can either go to traffic court or to criminal court, depending on the severity of the offense. Examples of misdemeanor traffic violations in Florida include:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI).
  • Hit and run (no bodily injury).
  • Reckless driving.

Felonies are the worst of the worst. These violations can send you to jail for anywhere between a few years and the rest of your life. If these cases go to court, they will always go to criminal court. Examples of felony traffic offenses in Florida include:

  • DUI for the third time.
  • Hit and run (bodily injury or death).
  • Vehicular homicide.

There are many more criminal traffic violations in Florida. If you have been issued a criminal traffic ticket, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.

How Much a Traffic Ticket Costs in Florida

The first thing most people want to know after getting a traffic ticket is how much the ticket costs. On the bright side, some of these tickets only cost a few dollars. On the dark side, many of these tickets cost well over $100 before any added fees. Moreover, the dreaded Florida fix-it ticket can cost you all of the fines and fees of the ticket but also the price to correct the violation.

While many of these fines are similar, they tend to vary slightly from place to place. Each county is allowed to enforce its own fines, fees, and surcharges at the local level. Since each county handles its own tickets, it's tough to know how much you're going to pay if the court convicts you. Be sure to comment at the bottom of this page or ask your lawyer for specifics.

However, the DHSMV sets the terms statewide for points and license suspensions/revocations.

Fines

Each of the 67 counties in Florida set their own fine schedule. Although counties like Orange and Duval share many similarities, there are other countries that are entirely different. To understand how fines vary from county to county, we'll look at three speeding tickets (15 mph over the posted limit). All of these fines are before fees and surcharges.

In Miami-Dade County, the fine would be $267.

In Pasco County, the fine would be $404.

In Brevard County, the fine would be $409.

Fees

There are countless fees associated with Florida traffic tickets. The first one that most people think of is the late fee. Failure to pay a traffic or parking ticket on time will result in the DHSMV adding an additional $15 to the balance owed.

There are five categories of DHSMV fees that you might have to pay, spanning everything from license fees to record fees. That includes a suspension lift fee of $45 to $60 depending on the reason for suspension. If your license was suspended as a result of a DUI or drugged driving conviction, you'll also have to pay a $130 Administrative Fee.

Surcharges

Unlike New York, Florida traffic tickets come with very small surcharges. They tend to be less than $10 and are added on to any traffic ticket convictions. That means pleading guilty to a $100 traffic ticket might end up costing you around $110 instead. Add on the other applicable fees and you're already well above the original fine.

Like with fines, surcharges vary from county to county. In many cases, such as DUIs, surcharges can be several hundred or several thousand dollars.

Insurance Increases

Your insurance can increase for just about any reason. Whenever insurance adjusters detect even a whiff of risk, they start calculating a new insurance premium. Even traffic tickets with no points can lead to insurance increases.

According to the Zebra's 2019 State of Auto Insurance Report, insurance rates can increase up to 82.2% for a single traffic ticket. For a speeding ticket, you can expect an increase of around 23.2%. If you're paying the average annual amount for auto insurance in Florida ($2,059), a single speeding ticket will cost you an extra $478 each year.

Since the DHSMV allows insurers to access the last 11 years of your driving history, you might end up paying that extra $478 each year for 11 years. That would be a total of $5,258 in addition to any fines, fees, and surcharges from the initial conviction.

Non-Monetary Penalties

  • License Suspension and Revocation

To have your license suspended is to have it temporarily invalidated. That means you won't be able to legally drive for whatever period of time the court decides. After that period, you will get your license back.

To have your license revoked is to have it permanently invalidated. That means you'll have to get a new license after the revocation period has expired.

There are two kinds of suspensions and revocations: definite and indefinite. A definite suspension is a suspension that expires on a set date. An indefinite suspension is a suspension that only expires once you've satisfied the conditions set forth by the court.

  • Jail Time

If you lose or forget about your ticket, you could face jail time in some counties. Failure to appear is its own separate charge that comes with its own penalties. If you fail to appear for a misdemeanor hearing, you will be charged with misdemeanor failure to appear. If you failed to appear for a felony hearing, you will be charged with felony failure to appear.

In either case, the court can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. That bench warrant allows police officers to arrest you, bring you to court, and jail you if you refuse to comply.

Florida Driver License Point System

Traffic tickets in Florida range from zero to six points. Unlike a few other states, Florida does tend to list traffic tickets from other states on your record. If you get a traffic ticket in Georgia, for example, you might still get points on your license. To make things worse, Florida does not allow any form of point reduction for offenses that occurred out of state.

Florida's driver license point system includes three point-based license suspensions. If you get 12 points within 12 months, your license will be suspended. If you get 18 points within 18 months, your license will be suspended. If you get more than 24 points within 36 months, your license will be suspended.

These points can only be completely removed by contesting your ticket in court and getting it dismissed. However, if you can't get your ticket dismissed, you may be able to reduce its number of points by going through a traffic school program.

Florida Traffic School: Driver Improvement Courses

Traffic school in Florida doesn't work like it does in some other states. The Florida DHSMV doesn't dismiss your ticket after competition of a driver improvement course. Instead, you will receive an 18% discount on your citation's fines. In other words, a $165 ticket is still going to cost $135.30. That's before any surcharges for conviction and subsequent fees.

To get approved for the traffic school option, you have to contact the clerk of court within 30 days of getting the ticket. Then you have to plead guilty, pay the ticket, and submit your certificate of completion as soon as possible.

There are three kinds of driver improvement courses in Florida: four hours, eight hours, and 12 hours.

  • Basic Driver Improvement (BDI)

The four-hour course is called Basic Driver Improvement. This is the simplest of the courses to pass. It only takes four hours to complete, can be knocked out in a single afternoon, and satisfies traffic school requirements.

The only traffic tickets that offer a discount for Basic Driver Improvement are minor, non-criminal traffic tickets. That means simple things like failing to yield the right of way while turning (§316.075(1)(a)1). Whether BDI is an option for your traffic ticket is left to the sole discretion of Florida's court system.

  • Florida Course

Depending on the severity of your traffic violation, you might have to take an additional course. This eight-hour course goes by a variety of different names, depending on which provider is offering it. However, the course requirements remain the same from place to place.

This tends to be an online, self-paced course, which makes it easier to fulfill the court's requirements. That being said, this will still take eight hours to complete. That's true no matter who you choose to administer the course.

  • Advanced Driver Improvement (ADI)

Advanced Driver Improvement courses are the longest courses available through Florida's traffic school programs. These courses are 12-hours long, often taking an entire day or being split over a weekend.

Unlike BDI courses, ADI courses are mandatory. If the court suspends your license due to points, non-DUI repeat offenses, or any other reason, you will have to complete an ADI course. Another reason why you might have to take an Advanced Driver Improvement course is if you would like to apply for a hardship license.

Florida Traffic Court

Florida traffic court is where you'll go to fight a traffic ticket in Florida. Each of the 67 counties has its own traffic court. Typically a part of county and municipal court systems, these traffic courts hear cases covering everything from parking violations to misdemeanor traffic violations.

However, the overwhelming majority of traffic violation cases in traffic court are non-criminal. Adn the times when traffic courts will handle misdemeanors are few and far between. Unlike in other states where misdemeanor traffic tickets might not impose jail time, many Florida traffic courts send all criminal traffic tickets to criminal court.

Traffic courts are designed to take the stress off of the already overbooked court system. Instead of flooding other courts with the millions of traffic and parking tickets issued each year, courts select specific judges to primarily focus on these disputes. This enables a much more streamlined approach to the dispute process.

However, these courts still face hundreds of thousands of cases every year. If drivers contest only 5% of Florida traffic tickets, judges will still have to hear 250 thousand cases. That's almost 700 cases in the state and 10 in every court house every day.

Contact Information

How to contact traffic courts in Florida depends on the county in which you got the ticket. It's important to note that Florida traffic courts don't care where you live. You could live out of town or even out of the state. But as long you get your ticket in, for example, Orange County, you're going to Orange County traffic court.

For a full list of traffic court locations, consult the DHSMV website. For a full list of all courts in Florida, including the names of a few judges, check out Ballotpedia. Keep in mind that Ballotpedia is always changing, as the judges shift around. Since it doesn't provide specific information about the local courts, the DHSMV website will be best.

Additional Resources

If you're looking for more Florida traffic ticket information, keep reading the below sections. However, if you want more detailed information on one specific subject, there are a few additional resources that you might want to check out.

The first additional resource is WinIt's blog. We are constantly writing articles on traffic tickets, parking tickets, and how to beat them.

The second additional resource is the official website of the Florida court system. One webpage in particular breaks down the different kinds of courts in Florida.

A third additional resource is this list of every possible traffic citation in Florida.

Florida Traffic Ticket Process

Florida traffic courts work in a streamlined manner. The process is much more straightforward than the process for criminal court. But that doesn't mean it's simple.

Florida traffic courts can be a challenge to navigate without the help of an expert traffic attorney. Attorneys can negotiate plea deals, contact the right people to fight your ticket, and otherwise increase the chance of getting a better outcome for your ticket.

The process starts with the ticket itself. Once you know how to read the ticket, you'll need to know how to plead to the ticket. After that comes the waiting period, while you prepare your defense for court. If you win the fight, you're all set! If you lose the fight, you'll have to pay up.

How to Read a Florida Traffic Ticket

It's tough to tell you how to read a "Florida traffic ticket," since only the Highway Patrol writes them. Each individual county can have its own rules and regulations about writing traffic tickets. However, all Highway Patrol tickets will be similar to the Uniform Traffic Citation shown below: This page shows a few key pieces of information that will help you navigate Florida's traffic court process. First off, in the top right corner, you have the citation number. That's the reference number that you'll need to do anything with your ticket.

The top couple lines contain information about the court and the issuing department. That is the courthouse you will need to contact to move forward with your traffic ticket. The middle lines mainly just show your vehicle's and your information.

The bottom of the ticket lists the charges against you. That will show the law that you are said to have broken and provide additional options for common tickets.

How to Plead to Florida Traffic Tickets

In most states, there are three traffic ticket plea options. Florida is one of those states. You have the option to plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. EAch of these three plea options has its benefits and its costs. In the case of a guilty plea, however, there are virtually no benefits at all, aside from saving time fighting the ticket.

You will enter a plea either by mail, in person, or—in some counties—online. Once you've entered the plea, await the court's response to move forward. If the court does not respond within a couple of days, follow up with the clerk to ensure that they have received your plea. Otherwise, you might be facing penalties for failure to respond/appear.

  • Guilty

The guilty plea is the most common plea for Florida traffic tickets. To plead guilty is to tell the judge that you accept full responsibility for the violation and are willing to accept the full consequences thereof.

A common misconception is that the judge will let you off the hook of a guilty plea if you have "a good enough reason." While it is true that some benevolent judges will allow you to change your plea mid-court session, that is exceedingly rare. If you believe that you have a good enough reason to get away from your ticket, then you should plead not guilty and fight it in court.

  • No Contest (Nolo Contendere)

No contest pleas are also called nolo contendere pleas. Nolo contendere is the Latin phrase for no contest and courts often use Latin phrasing. The reason for that is because much of our court system has Latin roots. The problem with that is that it takes a bit of an understanding of Latin to understand. Hiring a lawyer can help with that.

No contest pleas are similar to guilty pleas in that you accept the full consequences of the ticket. However, the two plea options are different in that a no contest plea means that you don't accept any responsibility for the violations. In other words, you will accept the penalties but you reject the charges.

  • Not Guilty

The not guilty plea option is the only plea option that enables you to contest both the charges against you and the penalties. When you plead not guilty, you will have to go to court on your appearance date. If this is not listed on your ticket, be sure to contact the clerk of court for whichever county is listed on the ticket as soon as possible.

  • Plea Bargaining

For the most part, the only plea bargaining that happens for traffic tickets is between you and the officer when they're writing the ticket. It's possible to charm your way into a lower speeding ticket. While we've all heard "that guy's" story of how he got out of a speeding ticket, those stories are one in a million at best.

Since municipal courts do not have prosecutors, the only person who could amend your ticket after formal plea bargaining is the police officer themself. That rarely happens. Although plea bargaining traffic tickets in Florida is legally permitted, it tends to be functionally impossible.

How to Fight Florida Traffic Tickets

If you want to contest anything about your ticket, you'll need to plead not guilty. This opens the door to plea bargaining and an official hearing in court. While plea bargaining for non-criminal traffic tickets in Florida's municipal courts is rare, hearings are a common course.

The process for parking tickets, camera tickets, traffic infractions, and criminal traffic violations are all somewhat different. The first three categories will tend to go through traffic court in municipal courts, like we described the sections above. The latter will go to criminal court.

  • Traffic Infractions

Traffic infractions are non-criminal traffic tickets. Examples include most equipment violations and other minor offenses like failing to use a turn signal. Traffic tickets for traffic infractions tend to be lower than the penalties for criminal traffic tickets by a longshot.

Whereas you might only pay a $60 fine for a simple bicycle violation, a reckless driving conviction is going to cost a whole lot more. Traffic infractions also tend to have less severe non-monetary penalties. Although many traffic infractions can still lead to points on your license and high fines, they never lead to arrest or instant license revocation.

  • Misdemeanors and Felonies

Misdemeanor and felony traffic violations are the worst kinds of traffic violations in florida. Traffic tickets for either of these two categories of offenses can be the least of your worries. In most cases, you will also be facing potential jail time, fees, surcharges, civil penalties and lawsuits, and other awful things.

To talk about reckless driving again, you could end up with a fine of up to $500, 90 days in jail, a civil lawsuit for any damages or injuries you caused, and more. You'll also most likely have your license suspended or revoked and have to attend a Driver Improvement course.

How to Pay florida Traffic Tickets

The most convenient way to pay a Florida traffic ticket is through the WinIt app. The app gives you the option to either find a lawyer to fight your ticket or to pay the ticket on your own. All you have to do is put your information into the system and we'll handle the payment on your behalf.

Another convenient way to pay a traffic ticket in Florida is through the state's payFLclerk website. This is an official government portal that enables you to pay your traffic ticket without much hassle, provided that you have all of the necessary information on hand. It works in all 67 counties and covers the majority of non-criminal traffic tickets.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have questions after reading this information and are looking for answers, comment them below or keep reading. Our Florida traffic ticket experts will respond as soon as possible, providing you with detailed answers for each of your questions. In the meantime, check out a few of the frequently asked questions below.

  1. How can I check if my license is valid?

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has a webpage dedicated to driver license checks. You can enter your driver license number, satisfy the CAPTCHA requirements, and press enter. Then you'll see either "Valid" or "Invalid."

  1. Can my employer see my driving record?

Yes. Employers can request a copy of your driving record directly from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for less than $10.

  1. Can I get a driver license if I don't have a Social Security Number (SSN)?

Yes. As long as you bring a letter from the Social Security Administration stating that you were never issued and SSN, you can apply for a license. If you are a non-immigrant foreign national, you don't need to get that letter.

  1. Are out-of-state licenses considered valid ID?

Yes and no. Out-of-state driver licenses will be considered valid for the purpose of driving in Florida. However, they will be considered invalid for purposes of your primary identification.

  1. How much does a speeding ticket cost in Florida?

Speeding tickets in Florida can vary in cost from county to county. In general, you can expect to pay well over $100. In some counties, after fees and surcharges, you might have to pay $500 or more.

  1. Can I drive to work if my license is suspended?

No. Driving on a suspended license is a criminal offense in Florida and can have serious consequences. If you cannot get to work without driving, then you should apply for a hardship license immediately.

  1. What if I lost my ticket?

If you lost your traffic ticket, you need to find it immediately. Assuming you've already tried that, the best option is to ask your lawyer to find a copy for you. If you do not have a lawyer, you can try contacting the local clerk of court and they may be able to help out.

  1. What is a docket number on a traffic ticket?

Docket numbers are the reference numbers that judges and attorneys use to identify cases. This is usually listed on your summons. If not, contact the clerk of court. They should be able to provide you with that information.

  1. How do you get a traffic ticket dismissed in Florida?

The only way to get a traffic ticket dismissed in Florida is to contest the ticket in court. That will allow you to present your case to the judge and dispute what the issuing officer has to say.

  1. Is it worth it to fight a traffic ticket in Florida?

Yes. Fighting traffic tickets in Florida can prevent points from getting on your license, your insurance from increasing, and you from paying massive out-of-pocket costs.

  1. What if the cop doesn't show up to my hearing?

Most of the time, your ticket will simply be dismissed.

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