Failing to Comply With The Civil Penalty of a Traffic Ticket

Let's take a look at section 318.15 of the Florida Statutes. This section basically says that if a driver fails to either pay the ticket (bad), elect driving school (good), or challenge the ticket within thirty days of receipt of the citation the Clerk shall notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles [Department] within 10 days of such failure. Immediately after that notification the Department will issue a suspension notice to the driver that takes effect 20 days after the date of the letter. Additionally, if the driver fails to appear at a scheduled hearing the Clerk will notify the Department with the same result.

What we are talking about here is the letter that people receive telling them that "Hey! Guess what - your license is suspended effective on blah, blah date! Have a great day!" What the letter fails to state clearly is that there are options to the driver to "repair" the situation. But hey, the silver lining is that they noticed you and you typically have time (unless you moved and did not change your address - I'll leave that for another time).

What a Driver Can Do to "Fix" the Problem

So you got a ticket and life interrupts and before you know it you receive a letter from the Department with the ominous words telling you your driver's license will be suspended on a date less than 20 days away. Here's your fix it guide:

You forgot completely about the ticket! No worries. Go to the Clerk of Court and pay the late fee ($23 usually) and ask for a hearing. So long as you do this before your license HAS BEEN suspended you can pay the late fee. The Clerk's Office will give you a document called a "D6" (unknown still why it is called this) that you can take to the local DMV to prevent the suspension.

  • What if you don't want a hearing? Don't worry. It is too late to elect a driving school so the only way to keep points off would be to go to a hearing and hope the court keeps them off which is always a possibility (just don't miss the hearing!). Moreover, asking for a hearing will get you time - usually a lot of time. It will also prevent your ticket being handed off to a collection agency that charges (what should be a criminal) 40% surcharge.
  • What if you pay the late fee, get your D6, ask for a hearing, but forget to take the D6 to the local DMV? Well, it'll cost you but it is still fixable. You can still reinstate your license after it is suspended by bringing the D6 to the DMV and paying a fee. Unfortunately, the suspension will be noted on your Motor Vehicle Record [MVR] and remain there for 7 years.
  • What if my license is suspended before I can get to the Clerk's Office? In that case, you won't be able to get your D6 from the Clerk. You can still ask for a hearing up to 180 days after you receive the ticket but the court will have to order the Clerk to release the D6 so you can reinstate your driver's license.
Forgetting to address a traffic violation within 30 days is a common problem that drivers face in their busy lives. I hope that this brief article helps most realize that there are options and that the letter from the Department can be a blessing in disguise.

- is an Orlando attorney practicing criminal defense. He represents clients seeking criminal record expungements throughout the state of Florida and all traffic infractions/charges in Central Florida.

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