Traffic fines increase to counter state debt

Legislation has been proposed to increase civil traffic penalty fines in the face of Florida’s    $2.3 billion debt.

Increased fines would apply to traffic citations students receive on campus, said University Police Spokesperson Lt. Meg Ross.

“If the state of Florida raises traffic fines, then yes, our fines will go up,” Ross said. “We issue citations based on the Hillsborough County fine schedule, and their fines come from the state.”

Moving and non-moving civil infraction violation fines — currently $91 and $141, respectively — will go up $10 each, said Kathleen Sallisky, associate director of the Hillsborough County Traffic Department.

Additionally, speeding tickets issued for driving 15-19 or 20-29 miles over the speed limit will increase their fines by $25, she said.

“It’s all going into effect on (Sunday). The legislation is pending the governor’s signature, and it will probably be a couple of days, but it has been passed in the Florida House and the Senate,” Sallisky said.

Fines in Hillsborough County, as reported by the clerk of the Circuit Court, are $206 for speeds 15-19 miles over the limit and $231 for 20-29 miles over. This means the fines will increase to $231 and $256, respectively.

“The fines are for infractions that are in violation of only Chapter 316 in the Florida Statutes,” Sallisky said.

Civil moving and non-moving infractions under Chapter 316 of the Florida Statutes include charges like speeding, running a red light and expired license plate tags.

“Of the increased amount of $10 to existing fines, $5 will go to the state court’s revenue trust fund, $3.33 is going to the state attorney’s revenue trust fund and $1.67 is going to the public defender’s revenue trust fund,” Sallisky said.

In addition to increased traffic citation fines, there will no longer be an 18 percent discount on fines if the driver elects to attend driving school, she said.

The fee for failure to pay a civil traffic penalty within 30 days is slated to increase from $12 to $16.

Students who ride bikes or walk to class will not have to worry about increased pedestrian or bicycle fines, said Parking and Transportation Services Director Manuel Lopez.

“We are not increasing fines. There is no proposal to do so,”  he said. 

UP considers students’ financial situations when issuing citations, Ross said.

“We have to weigh out the benefit of a citation over a written warning when it comes to the safety of our students on campus,” she said. “We try to enforce while keeping in mind both sides of the coin.”