Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Civil Traffic Infraction?
A civil traffic infraction is a non-criminal charge that can usually be disposed of by the payment of a civil penalty or an election to attend a defensive driving course, However, if your citation involves serious bodily injury, a fatality, leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle, or speed 30+ MPH in excess of posted speed limits, you are required to appear before the Court.
Examples of civil charges are: pedestrian violations, bicycle violations, non-moving violations such as; not wearing your seat belt, not carrying your driver’s license, registration, or insurance card, expired registration less than 6 months, or expired driver’s license less than 4 months, moving violations such as; speeding, running a red light or stop sign, careless driving, child restraint violations, or failing to maintain a single lane.
What are the procedures for handling a citation for failure to carry or display a driver’s license, registration, and/or a license tag?
If the officer charged you with no/failure to carry or display a valid driver’s license, registration, license tag, and you have proof that it was valid at the time the officer issued the citation, you may submit proof of your valid document(s), a $10.00 dismissal fee, and the yellow copy of your citation to the Clerk’s Office for dismissal of the charge.
What are the procedures for handling a citation for failure to carry proof of insurance?
If the officer charged you with failure to carry valid insurance, and you have proof that it was valid at the time the officer issued the citation, you may send a photocopy of your valid document, a $10.00 dismissal fee, and the yellow copy of your citation to the Clerk’s Office. Clerk’s Office personnel will dismiss the charge. Please send your request to the mailing address provided above.
Which citations require a mandatory court appearance?
The following charges require a mandatory court hearing:
- Leaving a child in an unattended vehicle
- An accident involving a serious bodily/personal injury
- An accident involving a fatality
- Passing on enter/exit side while bus is stopped
- Speed 30+ MPH in excess of posted speed limits
How do I obtain a court continuance for my civil traffic citation?
If your civil court date has been set, the Clerk’s Office does not have the authority to change the court date. You must file a “Request for Continuance”. The written request should be forwarded to:
Washington County Clerk of Court
Post Office Box 647
Chipley, FL 32428
The request will be forwarded to the appropriate hearing officer or judge. You will be notified by mail if the request was granted or denied, if the request was granted, you will be provided the future court date information.
CLERK PERSONNEL ARE NOT ALLOWED TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE.
How can I get my driver’s license reinstated?
The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will reinstate your license for a fee of $60.00. You must have proof that all outstanding suspensions in every county have been satisfied. Please contact the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles at (850)-638-6284 for instructions.
How do I obtain a record search of my driving record in order to obtain a hardship license?
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) may require you to furnish a letter from the Clerk’s Office reflecting dispositions on violations received in the last 12 months. There is a fee of $5.00 for this service.
A record search may be obtained at the following location:
Washington County Clerk of Court
1293 Suite, 101 Jackson Avenue
Chipley, FL 32428
Can I pay my out of county traffic citation at a Washington County Clerk’s Office?
No, you must pay your citation in the county in which you received it. Some counties have Out of County Defensive Driving School Affidavits. You can fill them out and send them to the correct county. You may attend a school in another county. However, you must first take care of the citation in the county that issued the citation.
What should I do if I have a change of address?
Follow the instructions listed in your Florida Driver’s Handbook. A complete copy of the handbook is available on the Internet at: Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website
What forms of payment are acceptable for a traffic citation?
You may pay with cash, money order. If making payment at our office location, we accept Visa, MasterCard, and most debit cards.
Does attending defensive driving school keep the citation off my driving record?
No, the citation will show on your full driving record, but will show adjudication withheld. This means no points will be assessed.
Can I elect to attend defensive driving school after I have paid my citation?
No, once you pay your citation, you have made your one election for that violation. If you wish to attend school, you must make that election first.
Does attending defensive driving school keep my insurance rates down?
Please consult your respective insurance company for this information.
Where can I find a list of defensive driving schools?
For Basic Driver Improvement Courses, please visit the State of Florida DHSMV’s Basic Driver Improvement Course listing. For additional course, and for other class types, please consult your local yellow pages.
Will the defensive driving school notify the Washington County Clerk’s Office when I have completed the class?
No, you must send your completion certificate to the Clerk’s Office.
How can I obtain a copy of a driver’s license search?
You may obtain a driver’s license search by visiting www.flhsmv.gov – click “Driver License & ID” then click “Driver License Check”, or you may visit the Washington County Tax Collector at 1331 South Blvd., Chipley, FL 32428
What are my options for disposing of a civil traffic citation?
You have 3 basic options. The Clerk’s Office must receive your option with payment.
1. Pay the traffic citation (Payable moving violations may be paid within 30 days)
- Payment in person – Traffic Department at Washington County Clerk of Court, 1293 Suite 151 Jackson Avenue, Chipley, Florida.
- Payment by mail – by sending to Traffic Department at Washington County Clerk of Court, Post Office Box 647, Chipley, FL 32428.
- Payment by website via MyFloridaCounty.com
If you choose to pay the civil penalty, you are admitting guilt, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (DHSMV) will assess points on your driving record for moving violations. For driver’s license, registration, or insurance violations, proof of compliance is also required.
If paying by mail, please remember that the Clerk’s Office must receive the payment within 30 calendar days of the date the officer issued the citation. We are not responsible for lost or delayed mail. Enclose the yellow copy of the citation with payment so that we can match the payment to the correct case file. Payment can be made with checks or money orders drawn on a United States Bank.
ONCE YOU HAVE PAID IN FULL, YOU CANNOT CHANGE YOUR OPTION TO SELECT A DEFENSIVE DRIVING SCHOOL.
2. Elect Defensive Driving School
Commercial Drivers are NOT eligible for this option.
You may elect defensive driving school on any non-mandatory court appearance citation that has points assessed. These are typically moving violations such as speeding, running a red light, failing to maintain a single lane and child restraint.
If you elect the defensive driving school option, adjudication is withheld, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) will not assess points against your driving record.
You are eligible to elect the defensive driving school once every 12 months and five times in a lifetime. To elect this option, you must fill out the Traffic School Affidavit Form and pay the school election fee within 30 calendar days of the date the officer issued the citation. The forms are available from the officer at the time they issue the citation, or from the Clerk’s Office.
You must attend or complete a defensive driving course approved by the State of Florida. Courses offered in other states are not acceptable.
Once you have completed the school, you must return the school completion certificate to the Clerk’s Office within 60 days from the date you paid the school election fee.
It is your responsibility to enroll in the traffic school of your choice. For information concerning traffic school enrollment, locations, and fees, please contact a traffic school of your choice. Traffic schools are located in your local yellow pages under Driving Instruction.
ONCE YOU HAVE ELECTED THE TRAFFIC SCHOOL OPTION, YOU CANNOT CHANGE YOUR ELECTION TO PAY THE CIVIL PENALTY.
3. Elect a Court Hearing
Your request for a court hearing must be in writing and can be delivered in person or by mail. The Clerk’s Office must receive your written request within 30 calendar days of the date the officer issued the citation. Please visit or send your request to our mailing address.
If you appear in court, you waive your right to paying the civil penalty amount. The judge can fine you up to $1,000.00, as well as order you to attend Driver Improvement School and/or pay a penalty. If you fail to attend a requested hearing, it may result in a driver’s license suspension; or the judge can hear your case without you being present. The Clerk’s Office will notify you of the judge’s decision.
If it is impossible or impractical for you to appear in court in person, you may be eligible to elect a court hearing by affidavit. If eligible, and upon request, the Clerk’s Office can mail you an Affidavit of Defense to complete and instructions for posting a bond in lieu of your appearance. This form must be notarized, and the applicable bond amount must be submitted. The judge will read the affidavit in the courtroom. The officer and any witnesses may testify, and the judge will render a verdict. The Clerk’s Office will notify you by mail of the disposition of your citation.