Gov. DeSantis Signs Bill Increasing Access to Payment Plans for Fines and Fees

Governor DeSantis Signs Bill Increasing Access to Payment Plans for Fines and Fees

With Bipartisan Support in Florida’s Legislature, New Law Will Increase Revenue and Keep Safe Drivers on the Road

This week, Governor DeSantis signed HB 397 into law, with strong bipartisan support. This new law creates more affordable payment plans for millions of people who cannot immediately pay court-ordered fines and fees. The law sets minimum payment plan amounts at $25 per month or 2% of a person’s annual income divided by 12 (whichever amount is greater). Additionally, if a clerk requires a down payment for a payment plan, the amount is capped at 10% of what an individual owes or $100 (whichever amount is less). The law takes effect on July 1, 2022. 

Evidence from other states that have passed similar reforms has demonstrated that making payment plans affordable will increase revenue for Florida’s clerks of court, who rely on fines and fees revenue to operate.

“Making payment plans affordable is a win-win for all Floridians — and for the clerks who rely on collections of fines and fees for their budgets,” said Sarah Couture, Florida State Director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center.

Estimates show that two million Floridians – about 1 in 8 drivers – have a suspended driver’s license simply because they couldn’t afford to immediately pay a fine or fee in full. In the past five years, 22 U.S. states – including Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, and West Virginia – have passed more far-reaching laws to end the practice of debt-based driver’s license suspensions.   

While Florida’s new payment plan law is a step in the right direction, many key stakeholders — including Americans for Prosperity, The Florida Retail Federation, Florida Truckers Association, UBER, Lyft and other business groups across the state — have been urging state leaders to pass more comprehensive legislation and join the 22 states that have curbed debt-based license suspensions.

“We thank the Florida Clerks of Court for including these provisions in their priority legislation this session,” added Couture. “We look forward to continuing to work with Florida’s clerks to ensure they have reliable funding and to address the harm fines and fees cause to Florida’s economy and to millions of residents.”

If you are in need of an affordable payment plan, reach out to the local Clerk of Court after July 1, 2022 in the county where your fines and fees were imposed.