LEE COUNTY, Fla. — More Floridians than you make think shouldn’t be on the road. According to the nonprofit Fines and Fees Justice Center, nearly 2 million drivers in the Sunshine State have a suspended license.
52,000 of those drivers live in Lee County.
Kevin Karnes, the Chief Operating Officer of Lee County’s Clerk of Court Office says citation fines are just the starting point. If drivers fail to pay that in a certain amount of time, collection fees pile on top. That’s where his office steps in.
“Waiving the 25 percent collection fee, and so hopefully getting you back on the road in legal status,” said Karnes.
Monday, they kicked off Operation Green Light, a project that waives collection fees. Those collection fee waivers apply to toll violations, speeding, running red lights, and lack of insurance if you can show proof.
Log onto the clerk’s website and schedule a phone or zoom appointment to find out how much you owe.
Another option would be hiring an attorney. Andrew McGann with The Ticket Clinic says they can also get those collection fees recalled.
“They’d have the same amount of time that they originally had - the same amount, without those extra costs,” he said.
Defense Attorney Lance Dunford with the Law Firm of Scott T. Moorey says some think driving on a suspended license or putting off traffic fines is worth the risk - especially if they’re struggling to make ends meet. Some clients of his even gamble between paying for car insurance or a utility bill.
“That’s the month I can promise you they’re going to get pulled over,” he said.
He’s says your best bet is signing up for Operation Green Light. But, if you miss that window before it closes March 6th, and cannot afford an attorney, Dunford says you’re not out of options.
“Anybody can go down to the clerk of court, and work out a payment plan,” he said.
Lee County Clerk’s office can only access violations in Lee County. If you concerned about a violation in another county, you can go to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles' website.
If your license is suspended for a reason other than failing to pay fines or for criminal offenses, like a DUI, you do not qualify for the clerk’s program. Dunford says if you get caught driving with a suspended license three times within a five-year period, you could face felony charges.