County Traffic Court:  TRAFFIC INFRACTIONS - The defendant’s argument that the maximum monetary penalty that the magistrate could have imposed pursuant to Sec. 318.18 Fla. Stat. is $70 was without merit.  The defendant elected to appear before the magistrate and the commission of an infraction was proven.  Therefore, the magistrate was empowered to impose not only a fine of $110.00, but a fine as high as $500.00.  Adams v. State, No. 01-07119 CFANO (Fla. 6th Cir. Ct. January 9, 2002).
 
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

†OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

APPELLATE DIVISION

 

 

MATHEW PHILLIP ADAMS,

††††††††††† Appellant,

 

vs.†††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† ††††††††††† Appeal No. CRC 01-07119 CFANO

 

STATE OF FLORIDA,

††††††††††† Appellee.

_________________________________/

 

Opinion filed January 9, 2002.

 

Appeal from Order of Pinellas County Traffic Court

County Magistrate Herbert Langford

 

Charles Perry, Esq.

Attorney for Appellant

 

Robert J. Surette, Esq.

Assistant City Attorney

Attorney for Appellee

 

ORDER AND OPINION

 

††††††††††† THIS MATTER is before the Court on the defendantís appeal from the traffic courtís order imposing fines and costs in the amount of $110.00 and suspending the defendantís driver license for two months.† After reviewing the briefs and record, this court affirms the traffic courtís decision.

On February 9, 2001, the defendant was charged with violation of a traffic control device pursuant to Sec. 316.074 Fla. Stat.† The defendant pled not guilty and a non-jury trial was held March 20, 2001 before Magistrate Herbert Langford.† At the trialís conclusion, the defendant was found guilty.† The magistrate ordered the defendant to pay $110.00 in fines and costs, ordered the defendant to attend a driver improvement course, and suspended the defendantís driver license for two months.

The defendant appeals the amount of the fine and costs and the suspension of his driver license for two months arguing that the penalties imposed exceed those proscribed by law. The defendant argues that the maximum monetary penalty that the magistrate could have imposed pursuant to Sec. 318.18 Fla. Stat. is $70.†† The defendant also argues that the magistrateís action in suspending the defendantís license for two months was an erroneous enhancement and an ex post facto penalty.

Sec. 316.074 Fla. Stat. provides in pertinent part:

316.074 Obedience to and required traffic control devices.ó

(1) The driver of any vehicle shall obey the instructions of an

official traffic control device applicable thereto, placed in accordance

with the provisions of this chapter, unless otherwise directed by a

police officer, subject to the exceptions granted the driver of

an authorized emergency vehicle in this chapter.

 

(6) A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction,

punishable as a moving violation as provided in chapter 318.

 

Sec. 318.14(4) Fla. Stat. cited by the defendant provides in pertinent part:

Any person charged with a noncriminal infraction under this section who does not elect to appear shall pay the civil penalty and delinquent fee, if applicable, either by mail or in person, within 30 days after the date of receiving the citation.

 

Sec. 318.18 Fla. Stat. Amount of civil penalties, provides in pertinent part:

The penalties required for a noncriminal disposition pursuant to s. 318.14 are as

†follows:

(3)(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, $60 for all

moving violations not requiring a mandatory appearance.

 

(11)(a) Court costs that are to be in addition to the stated fine

shall be imposed by the court in an amount not less than the following:

For moving traffic infractions . . . . . . . $10.

 

Thus, defendant claims the total amount of fines and costs that could have been

imposed is $70.† However, Sec. 318.14(4) is inapplicable because the defendant elected to appear before the Court.† Instead, Sec. 318.14(5) applies and the fine imposed is not restricted to the amounts provided under Sec. 318.18.

Sec. 318.14(5) Fla. Stat. provides in pertinent part:

Any person electing to appear before the designated official . . . shall

be deemed to have waived his or her right to the civil penalty provisions

of s. 318.18.† The official, after a hearing, shall make a determination

as to whether an infraction has been committed.† If the commission

of an infraction has been proven, the official may impose a civil

penalty not to exceed $500 . . . or require attendance at a driver

improvement school, or both.

 

Because the defendant elected to appear before the magistrate and the commission of an infraction was proven, we find that the magistrate was empowered to impose not only a fine of $110.00, but a fine as high as $500.00.

We now turn to the defendantís claim that the magistrateís action in suspending his driver license for two months was an erroneous enhancement and an ex post facto penalty.† The record on appeal indicates that the defendant has committed numerous traffic violations in both Pinellas and Hillsborough County within the past three years.† Sec. 316.655(2) Fla. Stat. provides in pertinent part:

Drivers convicted of a violation of any offense prohibited by this

chapter or any other law of this state regulating motor vehicles

may have their driving privileges revoked or suspended by the

court if the court finds such revocation or suspension warranted by

the totality of the circumstances resulting in the conviction and

the need to provide for the maximum safety for all persons who travel

on or who are otherwise affected by the use of the highways of the state.

 

Accordingly, we find that the magistrate did not commit error by suspending the defendantís driver license for two months.

It is therefore

ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the traffic courtís order imposing $110.00 in fines and costs and suspending the defendantís driving privileges for two months is affirmed.

DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida this 9th day of January, 2002.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† †††††††††††

__________________________

NANCY MOATE LEY

Circuit Judge
Primary Appellate Judge

 

___________________________

W. DOUGLAS BAIRD

Circuit Judge

 

___________________________

R. TIMOTHY PETERS

Circuit Judge

 

Copies furnished to:

 

Magistrate Herbert Langford

 

Charles Perry, Esq.

1100 Cleveland Street, Suite 900

Clearwater, FL 33755

 

Robert J. Surette, Esq.

Assistant City Attorney

City of Clearwater

645 Pierce Street

Clearwater, FL 33756