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GUEST COLUMN: Breaking down a traffic ticket

J.D. Peacock, Okaloosa Clerk
Courts
The Destin Log
As your elected clerk of court, I am often asked where the money for a traffic ticket goes. Maintaining the distribution of the fees and fines for traffic tickets is just one of the almost 1,000 responsibilities of the Clerk of Court's Office.
Over the next few months, I will cover some of the processes that go on at the Clerk's Office and explain how they impact our citizens and our community.
This week I will focus on the payment options available for paying your traffic ticket and provide a brief overview of how the funds are disbursed after we receive your payment.
When you receive a traffic ticket, there are multiple ways to pay your fine:
  1. Online at okaloosaclerk.com
  2. Pay at a local retail location (CVS, 7Eleven, Family Dollar, or ACE Cash Express)
  3. Pay at our Fort Walton Beach or Crestview location
  4. Pay over the phone
It is important to understand the breakdown of where your money goes and how it is disbursed throughout the county and state.
As an example, the cost for a regular moving violation is $163. This fee is broken down based off of the distribution schedule set by the Florida Legislature each year. The current breakdown is described below.
  1. $38.41 – The clerk's office to run court-related options
  2. $5 – The state courts
  3. $2.50 – The State Attorney's Office
  4. $2.50 – The Public Defender's Office
  5. $47.00 – Okaloosa County to help fund courthouse facilities, emergency radio systems, and law enforcement training programs
  6. $10.01 - State agencies to help fund things such as; state law enforcement radio systems, training programs for the Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Juvenile Justice, and domestic violence programs through the Department of Children and Families
  7. $25.64 – The state's General Fund
  8. $20.07 – The municipality where the speeding violation occurred
  9. $5.00 – Funds the teen drivers' education program offered by the Sheriff's Office and the School District
  10. $2.84 – Emergency medical service programs offered by the state
  11. $3.24 – The state's Brain and Spinal Cord Trust Fund which is the payer of last resort for high cost medical care needs in our state
  12. $0.79 – Department of Education to fund vocational rehabilitation programs
While the cost for other types of traffic infractions are different, the fee breakdown is similar.
Traffic ticket payments have a huge impact on statewide funding. The state collected $358,293,591 during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. In Okaloosa County, we collected $2,296,203 in fines, fees and costs on 14,936 civil traffic cases.
Okaloosa County has a collection rate of 92.52% on all traffic tickets. For the 8% that have not been paid, additional penalties such as suspended licenses, late fees, and other costs are incurred.
As the collection agent for the court system, the Okaloosa County Clerk's Office offers many different methods to help pay these tickets such as payment plans and community service substitution.
For more information please visit our website at okaloosaclerk.com and follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/okaloosaclerk.
The author is Okaloosa County Clerk of Courts.