Traffic Tickets Plunged in Florida. It May Mean Painful Budget Cuts for Many Services


At one point during the pandemic, statewide traffic revenue collection dropped by almost 70 percent.

Florida’s dependence on fines and fees revenue has led to budget cuts for many services as traffic tickets have plunged since March 2020. Revenue from mostly traffic tickets helps pay for an array of services outside of the justice system, like wildlife and environmental conservation, compensation for crime victims, and treatments for people with brain and spinal injuries. State clerks of courts collected $377.4 million in fines and fees for FY 2020, down from $432 million the previous year. As a result, nonprofits like Epilepsy Florida, Miami-Dade & The Florida Keys Crime Stoppers, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), whose funding model relies heavily on traffic tickets, are facing drastic budget cuts. This year’s projected revenue for fines and fees is between $410 and $421.9 million, a stark difference from earlier years when  $472 million was collected in 2014 and $539 million in 2009.

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Key Findings:

  • The loss of traffic ticket money will likely create a $40 to $60 million hole in the state’s general revenue fund.
  • The state’s largest court system, Miami-Dade, collected $60 million in its last fiscal year, 15 percent less than the previous year, and is now operating with 120 fewer positions to absorb the decrease in funding.
  • In 2019, Miami-Dade County police filed 693,624 traffic citations; in 2020, they filed just 361,718 citations for the first 11 months.
  • Epilepsy Florida gets money from a state fund that receives $5 for every seat belt infraction; they received $1.1 million in 2014 and only $240,000 in 2020.
  • MADD raises money from victim impact panels that judges order people to attend for $50; with fewer people ordered to attend and other fundraising events sidelined, MADD has had to furlough some employees. 
David Ovalle
FL Keys News