What is a criminal traffic or misdemeanor charge?
A criminal traffic or misdemeanor charge requires a court appearance and carries with it criminal penalties which may include a fine and/or the possibility of a jail term. Payment of a criminal traffic ticket cannot be automatically made to the Clerk's office. Persons charged with a criminal offense, if not given a court date at the jail, will need to come to the Clerk's Office and set a court date or will be notified by mail.
What is a civil traffic infraction?
A civil traffic infraction is a non-criminal charge such as a speeding violation, that can usually be disposed of by payment of a civil penalty or an election to attend a defensive driving school course. A court appearance is not required, except in cases were the violation involves an accident with serious bodily injury or fatality to another. Payment can be made by mail by using the traffic envelope provided by the officer or to: PO Box 9000, Drawer CC-10, Bartow, Florida 33831-9000, or you may pay in person by coming to our full service counter windows in the traffic division.
How soon after issuance must I pay the ticket?
Infraction violations must be paid within 30 calendar days from the date the ticket was issued. Criminal violations are due on or before the date the Court authorizes.
Can I get an extension for my payment due date?
Within the first 30 days from the offense date, the Clerk is allowed to extend a one time continuance for 60 days from the original due date. If a payment continuance is requested for a civil infraction payment, this request waives the individual's right to elect Driving school or later plead not guilty and request a court date.
If you were charged with failing to carry your driver's license, registration, insurance, you must provide proper proof to the Clerk of Court within 30 days of the time of the stop along with the required $10 dismissible fee. Payment extensions are not allowed for dismissals.
If you were cited for failure to maintain proof of insurance and did not have valid insurance for at the time of the stop, you may elect to enter a plea of nolo contendere and present proper proof of insurance to the Clerk of Court . Adjudication is withheld. This election and payment of costs ($78.80) must be made within 30 days to the Clerk of Court. Payment extensions are not allowed for elections as set forth in section 318.14(10)(a), Florida Statutes.
Can I get an extension for my court date?
Yes, but only for first time arraignment dates (criminal and civil infraction hearings). All other requests must be directly made through the appropriate judge.
What happens if the ticket is not paid?
A suspension will be entered against your driver's license which could affect your insurance rates and subject you to additional penalties. Effective July 1, 2004, Florida Statute 938.35 authorized the Clerk to employ a collection agency for all unpaid debts. If this citation is referred for collection efforts, an additional service fee up to 35% will be added onto the total amount of the unpaid financial obligations which remain unpaid 90 days or greater from the payment due date.
Are there other options available to me besides paying my ticket?
Yes, each type of ticket carries a statutory fine and possible point assessment. You have thirty calendar days from the date you received your ticket to select from one of the available choices:
Choice A - Pay your fine as indicated on the back of your ticket. Paying the fine means you admit to the violation listed on your ticket. Occasionally the ticket you receive has a printed fine amount, but the actual fine amount reflected by our record is different. Usually the actual fine amount is higher. This may be attributed to the fact that many county governments add surcharges to tickets by ordinance that the state does not reflect when the ticket is printed. Points may be assessed against your driving record if the violation is one that carries points. Click here for information to pay your ticket.
Choice B - Request a hearing by notifying the Clerk's Office, in person or in writing, within thirty (30) calendar days of issuance. Your case will be scheduled for a civil infraction arraignment hearing where you will be formally advised of the charge against you. You may at that time change your plea and the hearing will take place. If you still want to contest the charge, the case will be continued over to a non-jury trial for a later date.
Choice C - Request adjudication to be withheld (no points assessed to your driving record. You must call 863-534-7712 for recorded details to determine if you qualify. If you do qualify and want to request a hearing, you must contact the Clerk’s Office and request an arraignment hearing. Or, go to the Clerk’s Home Page and look under the Popular Destination tab, select Online Forms, proceed down to County Criminal-Traffic and select the Affidavit of Defense and Waiver of Appearance form. Once completed, send it along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the address as shown on the citation.
Choice D - Plea not guilty You may call 863-534-7713 for recorded details . If you want to plea not guilty, you must contact the Clerk’s Office and request an arraignment hearing. Or, go to the Clerk’s Home Page and look under the Popular Destination tab, select Online Forms, proceed down to County Criminal-Traffic and select the Written Plea of Not Guilty affidavit form. Once completed, send it along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the address as shown on the citation. Upon receipt, you will be notified of the non-jury trial date .
Choice E- Elect to attend a Defensive Driving course approved by the State of Florida, in the location of your choice. In such case, adjudication shall be withheld and POINTS SHALL NOT BE ASSESSED provided that you have not attended driving school in the last twelve months and if you have not been to driving school five (5) times in a lifetime, your are making this election within 30 days of the date of the citation or before the payment due date, you do not hold a commercial driver license, you were not traveling in excess of 30 miles of the posted speed limit, you have not previous appeared before the court on the citation and adjudicated already.
Choice F - Request an extension for payment. If a payment continuance is requested within the first 30 days from the violation date, the Clerk is allowed to extend an one-time continuance for sixty (60) days from the original payment due date. This requests waives your right to elect a hearing and later plead not guilty. This continuance also waives your choice to attend a defensive driving school or provide proof of compliance for specific violations.
Florida law allows you thirty (30) calendar days from the issue date of your ticket to comply with one of these choices. If you fail to select one within the thirty day compliance period, you are subject to late fees and possible suspension of your driver license. If you continue to drive on a suspended license, you may be arrested by any law enforcement agency. If you have any questions about your choices, please call the number provided on your citation or contact your nearest Clerk of Courts Office for assistance.
How do I enter a not guilty plea to a civil traffic infraction?
You must notify the Clerk's office, in person or in writing, within the required time frame. Your case will be scheduled for an infraction arraignment hearing where you will be formally advised of the charge against you. You may at that time change your plea and disposition will take place. If you still want to contest the charge, the case will be continued over to a non-jury trial for a later date.
Who will be present at the non-jury hearing?
The officer who issued the traffic ticket and any other witnesses called by the officer or any other witnesses that you wish to call to testify on your behalf. If you choose to subpoena witnesses on your behalf, it will be your responsibility for the preparation and costs, generally costing $27 per person.
What must I do if the court finds me guilty?
If you are found guilty of a civil traffic infraction the court may assess the fine and costs, order you to attend a defensive driving course or impose other penalties. If you should fail to pay the fine and costs in the time allotted you by the court, a suspension will be issued against your driver's license and additional penalties will be imposed. If you are found guilty of a criminal charge, the court may assess the fine and costs, order you to attend driver improvement, place you on probation or impose other penalties. If you should fail to pay the fine and costs in the time allotted you by the court, or fail to complete any other sanction placed upon you by the court, a suspension may be issued against your driver's license, a warrant may be issued for your arrest, or varying additional penalties may be imposed by the Judge.
Can the Clerk's office advise me of points assessed against my license?
No, deputy clerks cannot advise you of the number of points assessed against your driver history record or how points will affect your insurance. The Clerk's Office can provide a full history for a nominal fee averaging $16.25 for the first page and one dollar for each additional page for a lifetime history. Otherwise, you must address your questions to the Bureau of Driver Licenses and/or your insurance agent.
For information on the election requirements and costs involved, contact the nearest traffic department of the Clerk's Office. For information on the defensive driving course locations, hours and costs, contact an approved school. A listing of names, addresses and phone numbers of approved schools are available in your local telephone directory under "driving instructions."