Court fines help fund Florida government, but harm Floridians

If you have ever received a citation for a driving violation or filed some paperwork at your local court office, you have contributed to Florida’s collection of court fines and fees.  

In 2018, the state collected at least $755 million through criminal and traffic fines and fees, which financed state, county, and municipal governments. While many people may pay the amount due and move on, these fines and fees, and the role they play in financing our courts, adversely impact many Floridians, especially those with low income. 

Tachana Joseph-Marc

Fines are the costs one pays as a punishment for an offense, and fees are additional operational charges added by the government. In a lot of cases, the levied fees cost more than the actual fine. For example, there’s a $25 fine for driving 6-9 miles over the speed limit. However, when added together, the fees total $106, resulting in a ticket costing $131. That amount is distributed throughout various government entities, with counties and clerks of courts receiving at least 70 percent, and the remainder going to the state’s general revenue and trust funds.