Pinellas Co. offering incentive to get overdue court fines paid

Collections fees waived this week only

CLEARWATER, Fla. - If you've got a speeding ticket or court fine you've been putting off paying, you might want to get it taken care of this week. That's because Pinellas County is offering a special incentive through Friday, March 10.

The Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller's office is glad to be cashing out a lot of owed debt this week.

Joe Diaz is breathing a sigh of relief to finally have two traffic tickets from seven years ago paid off.

"It's incredibly awesome to be able to pay it, but it was difficult for a while, definitely," said Diaz.

It was so difficult because Diaz has a three year old son, and his license was suspended because of his outstanding court costs.  He was finally able to get his record clean through the county's "Start Smart" initiative.

"Today made it a lot easier to manage those tickets and save $130," Diaz said.

Start Smart offers anyone with tickets or court fines that are at least 90 days past due to get caught up by waiving all collections fees.  It can be a savings of up to 40 percent, wiping away hundreds of dollars from the balance.

"We are owed millions and millions of dollars because a lot of the times the fines that are assessed are uncollectable.  Usually it's not a top priority of a person in prison pay a $200,000 fine.  We're not going to get paid that.  But the smaller the fine, the greater chance of it being collected," said Ken Burke, Pinellas Co. Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.

So far Start Smart has collected $345,000 in unpaid fines, and you can still take advantage of the program by paying in person at three county office locations through Friday.

Beyond helping balance budgets, the county's glad to do something positive for people like Joe Diaz.

"The important part here isn't just collecting the money, it's helping people clean up their record," said Burke.

So far, 658 people have resolved more than 1,100 cases.  Many, like Diaz, have also been able to get their license reinstated the very same day.

If you'd like to take advantage of the program to pay off overdue tickets and court fines in Pinellas County, you can do so by paying your balance in full by Friday, March 10.  Locations where payment can be made are as follows:

  • North County Branch: 29582 US 19 N, Clearwater
  • Tyrone Branch: 1800 66th St. N, St. Petersburg
  • Pinellas Justice Center: 14250 49th St., Clearwater

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