Summertime! So many people from all across the country fantasize about the day the school doors swing shut for a couple of months during the summer. Often families take this opportunity to throw suitcases into the trunk, pack up the kids and sometimes the pets, and hit the road heading south to the balmy beaches of South Florida. The allure of tropical weather, tropical breezes, and maybe a couple of tropical drinks can be compelling even if you don’t have kids.
Although this is usually the scenario that comes to mind when a lot people think about vacationing in Florida, many times this is not when Florida gets the largest influx of visitors. Often when people who live in much colder regions of the country have the flexibility to do so, they high-tail it out of those frigid climates and head south. So many take advantage of the vast disparity in weather that one report stated that this year alone has seen more visitors to the State of Florida in January, February, and March than at any other time in its history – more than 26 million people in the first quarter of this year.
For those of us who live here, it comes as no surprise that Florida, South Florida especially, is a highly desirable destination. The annual pilgrimage of so many has just become a part of our daily lives, and our economy remains relatively healthy as a result of tourism. As one of the largest industries in South Florida, the livelihood of many residents is contingent upon having a “good season.” Granted, tourist is season is all year long, but as the previously mentioned numbers show, there are times of the year when we can expect the flow of visitors to become a deluge, and residents who thrive in the tourist industry are not the only ones who are counting on those tourist dollars.
My job as a traffic ticket attorney doesn’t rely primarily upon the tourist industry, but I can say that it is affected by it. Like those who work in the tourist industry, cops are also anticipate the arrival of these visitors. Law enforcement agencies are shrewd enough to realize that when people are traveling, they can be more concerned with getting to and from their many destinations than they are in scrutinizing the traffic laws of the land. This is why you see police officers stationed at rest stops, truck weigh-in stations, or near popular attractions. Think about it. How many times have you seen cops slowly patrolling beach fronts, especially those that offer beachside bars that offer all of those great tropical drinks? There is a definite method, and anticipated result, to these patrols. Speed past a truck weigh-in stop on the way to your destination, especially those near the state line, and they will gladly issue you “welcome to Florida” speeding ticket. Slip off your beachside barstool and into your vehicle and you can count on the sobering effects of getting a DUI citation.
A lot of people, most notably young adults, head to cities like Fort Lauderdale to party. As often happens with young adults, when it comes to traffic tickets they think that it won’t happen to them. It’s always someone else that gets the speeding ticket or the DUI. Unfortunately, these Florida traffic tickets are being issued at a rate that supersedes almost every other state. Many of these traffic citations ARE issued to young adults who are a segment of society that generally can ill-afford the additional expenses that traffic tickets add to their vacation expenses.
Regardless of whether you are a young adult or otherwise, no one adds getting a speeding ticket or any other kind of traffic citation to their vacation expenses. For some, nearly every dime is accounted for just so they can go on vacation. Buying theme park tickets at special rates or looking for a hotel within a certain price range all go into the planning so that people can make the most of their vacation time. The curve ball that cops can throw at visitors by issuing unanticipated traffic tickets that result in fines and penalties can create a real financial hardship.
You will have to pay the fine to the State of Florida, which can cost hundreds of dollars, but don’t think that you leave that financial hardship behind you when you leave South Florida. Thanks to the reciprocity that exists between many of the states, the traffic ticket penalties that you get here in Florida will most likely be reported to your state of residence. Like a puppy that follows you home, the points against your driver’s license and the insurance rate hikes you incur will probably continue to piddle on your life for some time to come.
Both life and automobile insurance companies set their rates depending on how much of a risk you pose as a driver. Having one or more traffic tickets on your driving record pretty much gives them carte blanche to justify significant rate increases which will be in effect for at least three years. If you are one of the unlucky few who this kind of thing seems to happen to frequently, you may have a difficult time finding an insurance company that will provide you with coverage. You may end up having to resort to a high-risk insurer who targets drivers with poor driving records so they can charge exorbitant rates.