CLERK'S FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Among the large number of questions the clerk receives, there are a few that are asked more than most. Here you will find many of these "Frequently Asked Questions" and their answers.
If your particular question is not here, or you need elaboration on an answer given here, feel free to contact the Clerk by phone below or by email.
What types of cases are handled in Traffic Court?
The Traffic Division of the County Court handles criminal traffic cases, civil infractions and ordinance violations. County court judges hear criminal traffic cases, while hearing officers preside over civil infractions and ordinance violations.
What is a criminal traffic charge?
A criminal traffic charge, such as driving under the influence, requires a court appearance and subjects a person to penalties that include a fine and/or the possibility of a jail term. Payment of the ticket cannot be made automatically to the Clerk's Office. Persons charged with a criminal offense must appear at the date, time and location indicated on the citation or as provided at the jail.
What is a traffic infraction?
A civil traffic infraction is a non-criminal charge that usually can be disposed of by payment of a civil penalty or an election to attend a driver improvement course. A court appearance is not required except as required by law. Please refer to the offenses listed under Mandatory Court Offenses under the Infraction Hearing section on this page.
When do I have to pay my ticket?
As noted on the back of the citation, infraction violations must be paid within 30 calendar days from the date the ticket was issued. There is no grace period. Note: The Clerk’s Office needs to have the citation on hand for you to pay it. Because FS 316.650(3)(a) permits 5 days for law enforcement officers to submit citations to the Clerk’s Office for processing, you should consider this before visiting this office to pay.
What if I can't pay my ticket within 30 days?
How do I figure out what I owe on my ticket?
If you are unable to pay your citation(s) within the statutory 30-day timeframe allowed under 318.14(4), you may be eligible to participate in the Payment Program. You cannot receive the reduced fine under the Payment Program for offenses that permit a reduced fee like insurance, registration, s license or defective equipment. All citations eligible for fee reductions must be paid within the first 30 days.
To participate in the Payment Program, you must make your request within the first 30 days. You may visit our Northeast Branch location at 1276 Metropolitan Blvd., Room #101, or our payment area at the Leon County Courthouse, 301 S. Monroe St, Suite 100, Tallahassee, FL 32301. You are required to pay a $25.00 administrative fee when you file a Request for Partial Payment of Civil Infraction
. You will then be given 90 days to pay your citation.
You may still elect to attend driver improvement school if you participate in the Payment Program, provided you qualify to attend driver improvement school. Refer to the Driver Improvement School section on this page to determine if you are eligible. You will have 90 days from the date we receive your Request for Partial Payment of Civil Infraction, $25.00 application fee, and notarized Election Affidavit
to complete your driver improvement course and submit your certificate of completion to this office.
Failure to comply with the Notice of Partial Payment Agreement will result in additional penalties and possible suspension of your s license for civil traffic infractions or a civil judgment for ordinance violations.
What happens if I don't pay my ticket on time?
While a law enforcement officer may tell you a fine amount for a particular violation, Florida Statutes, court rules, and administrative orders mandate the court costs for various traffic infractions. See Fla. 318.18(11) (2002); Rule 2.110, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration; and Administrative Order 1997-08. Click here
for a list of fines and costs for the most common traffic offenses. If you do not see the violation for which you were cited, please contact our knowledgeable traffic staff at 850-577-4100 for more information.
A suspension will be entered against your driver's license, and this could affect your insurance rates and subject you to additional penalties. Further, your case will be referred to a law firm for collection of the past due amounts.
Do I have other options besides just paying the ticket?
What can you tell me about points assessed against my license?
You have 4 options if proof is submitted and payment received within the first 30 days:
- Pay the citation.
- When you elect to pay, your case will be satisfied upon payment; the charge will be entered on your driving record as a conviction; and points will be assessed as applicable. If you select this option, you will not be allowed to elect school later.
- If you have been charged with safety equipment violations, you may have the defect corrected and submit an Affidavit of Compliance, along with a $92.00 dismissal fee for offenses written within the City of Tallahassee, $85.00 dismissal fee for offenses written in the unincorporated areas.
- If you have been charged with a tag, registration, driver license, or insurance violation, you may dismiss for $10.00, if you furnish proof that you had the document at the time you were charged and the document was valid.
- Enter a plea of not guilty. You must appear at court as noted on your citation, or you can send an Affidavit of Defense or Admission and Waiver of Appearance form to our office. If you cannot appear in court, you must file this form with the clerk.
- Elect to attend a driver improvement course. See the Driver Improvement School section on this page.
- Enter a plea of nolo contendere. If you were charged with a violation 316.646(1), 320.0605(1), 320.07(3)(a), 322.065, 322.15(1), or 322.34(1) and your license is suspended for failure to appear, failure to pay, or failure to attend a driver improvement school under 322.291, you may enter this plea in lieu of payment or the court appearance. You must send the Affidavit Option form to our office. You must provide a valid driver license, tag, registration, or proof of insurance to our office. You must not have made this election within the last 12 months. And you must not have pled nolo contendere previously under 318.14(10)(a) three times in your life. If your plea is accepted, our office will withhold adjudication.
Deputy clerks cannot offer advice concerning the number of points assessed against your license or how points will affect your insurance. You must address these concerns with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and/or your insurance agent.
How do I file a motion on an infraction case?
What if I have been ordered to perform community service hours?
If you want to ask the court to take action on your case, but are outside your first 30 days in which to set a court date, you may submit a motion click here
to this office for consideration by the Hearing Officer.
What payment types are accepted and where can I pay my traffic citation?
If you have been ordered to perform community service hours in lieu of paying your traffic citation, your community service hours must be performed at an approved non profit organization.? For an expanded listing of agencies in Florida, please visit VolunteerLEON
, Select Volunteer Connection, and then Browse Organizations. If you live outside Leon County or Florida, you must perform your hours with an established agency, such as The American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, The Ronald McDonald House, The American Cancer Society, MADD or the March of Dimes. Click here for the Community Service Hours Record, which must be prepared by the agency and submitted to this office by the date ordered by the court. You may mail your completed form to Clerk of Court, Criminal Customer Assistance, PO Box 267, Tallahassee, Fl 32303; fax your completed form to (850) 577-4100; or hand deliver to the Leon County Courthouse, Clerk of Court, 301 S Monroe Street, Suite 100. Failure to complete and submit your completion to this office by the date ordered may result in additional penalties and suspension of your s license. Click here
for the Community Service Record form.
How do I know if my Florida driver's license is valid?
Payments can be made at our Northeast Branch at 1276 Metropolitan Blvd., Room #101, Tallahassee, FL 32309 or at the Leon County Courthouse, 301 S Monroe St., Suite 100, Tallahassee Fl. 32301. You may mail your payment to Clerk of Court, PO Box 1529, Tallahassee Fl 32302. Do not mail cash. Click here
to pay online.
We accept personal checks, money orders, s check, Visa, Mastercard and cash. All checks must be drawn on a U.S. bank. We do not accept starter or counter checks. If paying by credit/debit card, online, in person or over the phone, a $4.95 convenience fee, per case, will be added to the amount owed. The s Office does not receive any part of this fee. If mailing y our payment, be sure to include any required documentation.
How do I get a copy of my criminal traffic record?
Please click here
to link to The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to verify the status of your driver's license.
Leon County Clerk of Court
P.O. Box 726
Tallahassee, FL 32302
You may make your request by mail, at the address listed above or fax to (850) 577-8016. Please allow 5 - 10 business days to process.
Mandatory Court Offenses
There are certain offenses that require you appear in court rather than just pay the citation. If you were charged with one of the following offenses you must appear in court. A court notice will be mailed to you at the address that is listed on the citation.
How do I enter a not guilty plea to a civil traffic infraction?
Load not secured: 316.520(1) or 316.520(2)
Passing stopped school bus on enter/exit side: 316.172(1B)
Any citation that resulted in a fatality or serious bodily injury
Child unattended: 316.6135
Speeding in excess of 30 MPH: 316.183, 316.187 and 316.189
Who will be present at the hearing?
You must notify the Clerk's Office, in person or in writing, within the required time period. Your case will be scheduled for an infraction hearing, at which you will be formally advised of the charge against you. You may change your plea at that time and the hearing will take place. Once you elect to contest your citation you have waived your right to pay the citation in full or pay the reduced fee and elect to attend driver improvement school.
For important information concerning Infraction Hearings, click here
The officer who issued the traffic ticket, any witnesses called by the officer, and any witnesses you wish to call, will be present at the hearing.
What happens if the court finds me guilty?
If you are found guilty of a civil traffic infraction, the court may assess the fine and costs, order you to attend a defensive driving course, or impose other penalties. If you fail to pay the fine and costs in the time allotted by the court, a suspension will be issued against your driver's license and additional penalties will be imposed.
What if I can't appear for my court date?
Where are infraction hearings held?
If you are unable to attend your scheduled court date, you may request a continuance, if requested at least 7 days in advance. Click Here for a Motion to Continue
. You may mail your Motion to Continue to, Clerk of Court, Court Attendance, Attention Infraction Clerk, PO Box 726, Tallahassee, Florida 32302, or fax in your request to (850) 577-4242. This office may only grant one continuance. The Hearing Officer must grant any subsequent requests. If your request is received less than 7 days from you court date, your Motion to Continue will be presented to the Hearing Officer in court. The Hearing Officer may grant the request, or the case may be heard in your absence. You may submit an Affidavit of Defense in lieu of appearing at your contested court hearing. Your affidavit must be notarized. Click here for an Affidavit of Defense
. You may mail or fax your Affidavit of Defense to the address and number listed above.
Most infraction hearings are held at 1920 Thomasville Road and are heard before a hearing officer. Contested hearings that involve injury and mandatory hearings involving serious bodily injury or a fatality must be heard before a judge. When set, your court notice will indicate the courtroom.
Who may elect to attend driver improvement school?
A person charged with a moving or non-moving traffic violation may be eligible to attend driver improvement school. A person charged with a violation involving driver licenses, vehicle registration, proof of insurance, speeding in excess of 30 MPH or leaving a child under the age of 6 unattended in a vehicle is not eligible. You may not elect to attend driver improvement school for any violation if you hold a commercial s license.
What are the benefits of attending driver improvement school?
Prior to your election, if you hold an out-of-state DL, it is your responsibility to verify if the issuing state will accept a Florida school election and withhold points for completing the school. Also, failure to complete the driver improvement school will result in an $18 failed school assessment and additional late fees, up to $41.00.
There are two benefits. One, no points will be assessed against your driver's license. Two, attending driver improvement school to satisfy the violation will be entered on your driver history record as an "adjudication withheld."
What is the cost of driver improvement school?
School costs vary, depending on the school you attend. You must pay the civil penalty; a fine plus court costs in full, for the offense, plus the costs for the driver improvement school; the civil penalty is required by law. There is also a cost for school. Contact the Traffic Division of the Leon County Clerk's Office for the current costs or refer to the handout materials furnished to you by the law enforcement officer at the time you were cited for the violation.
How do I enroll?
What steps do I take after I complete the driver improvement school?
You may visit the Leon County Clerk's Office to make your election, or make your election by mail. You must enroll, attend and complete an approved school within 60 calendar days from the date you elect to attend. You must pay for the course at the time you enroll. Click here
for an Election Affidavit, which must be notarized and submitted with your payment. If you pay your fine without formally making this election, you may not elect driver improvement school later. The election must be made at the same time you pay your ticket. This election does not extend the time to pay your citation.
Whether you attend a driver improvement school in Leon County or in another County, you must present proof of completion of the driver improvement school to the Leon County Clerk's Office within 60 calendar days of the date you elect to attend school. You may mail your certificate to Clerk of Court, Traffic Division, PO Box 1529, Tallahassee FL 32302, or to Clerk of Court, Criminal Customer Assistance, PO Box 726, Tallahassee Florida, 32302, fax to (850) 577-8016 or drop your certificate in our 24 hour drop box located behind the Leon County Courthouse on Calhoun Street.
What happens if I do not attend the driver improvement school I elected?
If you elect to attend school, you must complete the course and submit your completion certificate to the Leon County Clerk's Office within 60 calendar days of your election. If you fail to meet any these requirements for any reason, an $18.00 penalty will be assessed pursuant to Florida Statutes; a suspension will be entered against your driver's license; you will be adjudicated guilty of the offense; and points will be assessed against your driver's license. Further, your case will be referred to a law firm for collection of the past due amounts. If we request suspension of your license for your failure to complete school, or for your failure to file the school certificate of completion with this office, an additional $23.00 processing fee pursuant to Florida Statutes will be added.
How many times can I elect to attend a driver improvement school?
You may make an election to attend school to satisfy an eligible traffic violation one time in a 12 month period, but no more than 5 times in your lifetime. If you elect to attend, but fail to satisfy the requirements, the election will still count toward the 5 allowed.
What if I receive a ticket outside of Leon County?
You must make your election and pay the fines and costs in the county where your ticket was issued. However, you may attend a driver improvement school approved by the State of Florida in the location of your choice.
Who may I contact for more information about an election?
You may consult the telephone directory heading of "Driving Instruction" or contact the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) at (850) 487-1227, for a traffic reference guide; or click here
for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles list of approved course providers.
Why was my citation/case referred to a law firm for collection?
If you did not pay your traffic infraction within 30 days after your citation was issued, your driver's license was suspended. Ninety days after your citation was issued, your citation/case was referred to a law firm for collection, pursuant to Section 938.35., Florida Statutes, entitled "Collection of court-related financial obligations" and Section 28.246(6), Florida Statutes, entitled "Payment of court-related fees, charges, and costs; partial payments; distribution of funds."
Why can't I pay my traffic fines and costs in Leon County since I live here?
Who do I contact if my citation/case has been referred to the collection law firm?
Rule 6.100, Florida Rules of Traffic Court, provides that a traffic violations bureau will be established in each county court by administrative order, and that one of the functions of such a bureau is to accept payments of civil penalites for traffic infractions that do not require a mandatory hearing. The Traffic Division of the Leon County Clerk's Office was established by Administrative Order 1978-6
, is located at our Northeast Branch at 1276 Metropolitan Blvd., Room #101, and accepts payments of civil penalties on those cases that have not been referred to a collection law firm pursuant to Section 938.35.
Customers whose accounts have been referred to the law firm should contact the firm directly for payment information and instructions:
What happens after my citation/case has been referred to the collection law firm?
Blair & Sampson LLP
PO Box 702118
San Antonio, TX 78270
The law firm will notify you of the referral and will collect the monies owed. Once you case has been referred to the law firm, it will maintain your account. To insure that your account is credited properly, only the law firm will accept payment on your account.
Will this referral hurt my credit rating?
The collection law firm may file with credit bureaus those accounts that remain unpaid. Failure to pay your traffic citations may also affect your credit rating.
What happens to the money I pay for my traffic citation?
Section 318.21, Florida Statutes, entitled "Disposition of civil penalties by a county court," shows the distributions of all civil penalties by a county court. Additionally, Administrative Order 1997-08 shows additional fines and costs and the distribution of these amounts.