State increases traffic violation fines

By Maria Scheufler |

Photo by Mary Elizabeth Fair
The state of Florida has increased the fines for speeding tickets, not wearing seat belts, not using turn signals, and running red lights. Speeding fines will increase by $25.

Traffic fines have increased in the state of Florida due to concerns about the state’s budget.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Florida legislators don’t want to force more taxes on the working people, so their attention is on traffic fines, as well as taxes on cigarettes and education.

The money from the fines is going to be used in the state court system, which is expected to prevent some employee layoffs.

In January, a state Senate Committee approved a bill that will increase both traffic fines and speeding tickets.
Not wearing a seatbelt, not using turn signals, running a red light and other violation fines will increase by $10.
Speeding fines will increase by $25. These, however, are not the maximum prices. Local governments also have the authority to increase the prices of tickets by adding their own fees.

Sophomore business major Ryan Ward says the increase in price of these violations will only put more pressure on the already difficult financial situations of today’s society.

“Everyone is having a hard economic time,” Ward said. “I don’t think this is a good way to raise money for the state.”

The 18 percent reduction that Florida drivers receive after attending traffic school was eliminated.

Additionally, a judge’s right to waive fines was also voted to be taken away.

Junior communication major Lauren Vocelle said she benefited from having to attend the school.

“I wouldn’t have taken the class if I didn’t save money, and I doubt many people would attend traffic school without an incentive,” Vocelle said.

Some are now speculating whether police officers will write more tickets to support the state’s economy.

“Now I feel that if I do make a simple mistake, like not wearing a seat belt, the cops won’t be as understanding because they are trying to reach a certain amount of money for the year,” junior business major Jenna Parks said.

According to The National Safety Committee, the motive for the increase in fines is to raise the state’s revenue and bring stability to the budget.

The increases in these fines are predicted to produce $16 million this year and $63 million in 2010, according to Florida Capital News.

“I suspect based upon my past experience that their conclusions as to the revenue generating effects are greatly overstated,” Business Administration Instructor Robert Berger said.

“I feel that it isn’t right when police officers use money as an incentive to pull people over,” junior communication major Chelsi de Cuba said. “At the same time, it’s something that I’m not really worried about because I am a cautious driver and I don’t feel the need to speed.”

Many also hope this additional money might help to benefit the state’s current economic situation as a whole.

“I think this will be an easy way to increase state funds during the current recession that the nation is in,” sophomore business major Herman Fountain said.

The bill initiating the traffic violation changes went into effect on Feb. 1.

“There are going to be people of all ages violating these laws across the state,” sophomore political science major Steven DeFalco said. “We are going to be pumping revenue like there is no tomorrow.”

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