Speeders will feel higher fines

Traffic tickets hiked amid budget shortfall

By DENES HUSTY III dhusty@news-press.com February 3, 2009

Watch giving your vehicle the gas because the ticket the officer hands you may bring quite a surprise.

As of Sunday, the price of most traffic fines in Lee County and the rest of Florida went up $10, while some speeding tickets increased anywhere from $35 to $60, compliments of the special session of the state Legislature last month.
One of the most significant changes, however, is that offenders no longer get an 18 percent reduction in their fines by going to a state-certified traffic school, said Sue Murray, a customer service supervisor for the Lee County Clerk of Courts Office.
Murray said it is still beneficial to go to driving school because students don't get points placed against their licenses and won't run the risk of having their licenses suspended.
Twelve points within 12 months will get your license suspended for a month, she said.
Overall, that's still good news for some people whose livelihood depends on driving.
"I'm more concerned with getting a ticket and points against my license than the amount of the ticket," said Doug Parks, 53, of Estero, who spends a lot of time on the road selling pharmaceuticals. He said he's gone to traffic school twice to avoid points against his license.
Some increases aren't that much.
The fine for a bad head light or tail light increased from $84 to $94.
However, those with a lead foot may want to lighten up.
A ticket for going 20 mph to 29 mph over the speed limit in a construction zone increased $60 - it was $374 and now it costs $434.
The increases go into special accounts for state courts, state attorneys offices and state public defenders offices that were affected by a $2.4 billion shortfall in the state budget.
People ticketed in Fort Myers pay an additional $2 on top of the increases, Murray said.
The money, levied under a local ordinance adopted a few years ago, goes to pay for training the police officers who might be giving you a ticket.
Cape Coral has not adopted such an ordinance.
Some drivers are philosophical about the increases.
"I guess it's needed. They must be short of funds just like everybody else," said Alex Fite, 28, of Cape Coral, who works for Dean Fite Air Conditioning and spends a lot of time driving.
He said he'll have refrain from putting the pedal to the metal.
"I've had my share of speeding tickets, but I haven't had one since 1998," Fite said.