The monthly column Your Public Trustee, by Clerk of Courts Marcia Johnson.
Q. I received a speeding ticket recently and went to pay the ticket at the clerk’s office. I am curious because I heard someone comment that traffic ticket money went to the clerk. Where does the traffic ticket money end up?
A. The clerk of court is statutorily responsible to distribute the money from traffic citations. The money from traffic infractions is used in a variety of ways. Let’s take as an example a speeding ticket for going six to nine miles over the speed limit. The total ticket price is $123; of that the county receives $44.50, $30 of which is collected for funding all court facilities, $2 goes for law enforcement training, and $12.50 for law enforcement radio communications.
The clerk receives $39.41 to help fund court operations. The state receives the remainder of $39.09, which is distributed to the state’s General Revenue Fund and various other state trust funds.
Our sheriff’s department has created a full-time traffic enforcement deputy. Operating the civil traffic division involves a huge workload for the clerk, and my staff person responsible for these duties has years of experience. We receive tickets from various law enforcement officers including the sheriff’s department, the cities of Apalachicola, and Carrabelle, the Florida Highway Patrol, and other agencies. FHP electronically submits their citations, which my deputy clerk retrieves from a statewide portal, while the other agencies file paper copies. It takes time to accurately enter the data into our computer system and keep up with payments made, non-payments, driver license suspensions, and transmitting cases to collections as required.
There are also several options drivers can select and tickets are handled in different ways. You can only imagine the number of telephone calls received daily, and customers served on traffic tickets. This workload increases as the number of traffic tickets increases. The number of traffic tickets issued has declined in the past few years, both here and across the state, leading to budget deficits. Even though it has an effect on my budget, I would never advocate for tickets to be written solely to increase revenues.
Our Operation Green Light program just ended; it offered to assist anyone with a driver license suspension who owed court costs and fines. The clerk’s office is committed to continue to assist drivers who want to help themselves. If your license has been suspended because of money you did not pay on time, contact us. We may be able to have you sign up for a partial payment plan to pay your financial obligations and reinstate your license, as long as you make regular monthly payments agreed upon.
If you have any questions or comments about this column, please forward them to: Marcia Johnson, Clerk of the Court, 33 Market St., Ste 203, Apalachicola, FL 32320. Or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the clerk’s website at www.franklinclerk.com.