Florida Public Traffic Records

Florida Public Traffic Records

Public traffic records are documents that contain information about a licensed motorist. In Florida, different state agencies produce and preserve public traffic records. The state courts or the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) are at the forefront.

The FLHSMV's traffic records pertain more to a motorist's driving or traffic history. These records contain the license holder's traffic violations, license status, collisions, and license suspensions.

Meanwhile, the judiciary's traffic records comprise information related to a civil or criminal traffic case, such as an offender's pleadings, motions, sentences, etc. Regardless, these records — whether pieced together or reviewed separately — depict a license holder's traffic-related activities and sanctions in the State of Florida.

Are Traffic Records Public in Florida?

Yes. Under Florida's Sunshine Law, any traffic record maintained by a state agency (including the courts and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) is a public record unless otherwise specified.

In line with this policy, some personal information within an FLHSMV traffic record is exempt from public disclosure under Section 119.0712(2) of the Florida Statutes and the Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). This information includes:

  • A licensed driver's/ID card holder's name
  • Social security number
  • Residential address
  • Telephone
  • Driver license or identification card number
  • Medical or disability information
  • Emergency contact information
  • Email addresses

Nevertheless, certain people can access a driver's personal information for a legitimate purpose. For example:

  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Anyone with the record holder's written consent.
  • Towing companies (to inform a vehicle owner of a tow or impoundment)
  • Auto manufacturers (when recalling parts or motor vehicles)
  • Government or private agencies/companies (to verify a driver's personal information)

What do Florida Traffic Records Contain?

Ordinarily, the contents of a Florida traffic record depend on the agency that created it. For records in the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles' custody, an individual may view the information below:

  • Traffic violations, including:
    • Offense description
    • The disposition of the case (guilty or adjudication withheld)
    • Points assessed
    • The violation date
    • If the offender elected to attend traffic school
  • Crashes where a traffic citation was issued
  • The record subject's date of birth
  • Open or closed suspensions, cancellations, revocations, and disqualifications
  • D-6 suspensions, resulting from a failure to comply with court requirements. For example, failure to pay a traffic ticket, appear for a traffic citation, or complete traffic school
  • Correspondence entries (available only in complete driver records)

Since the department maintains traffic records as part of a person's driver record, the following information is also included:

  • Driver license/ID card issuance history, driver education, and passed exams.
  • Current license type and status

Florida law does not permit the dissemination of certain personal information. Hence, that information (e.g., a name, address) may be automatically redacted from a traffic record.

In contrast, traffic records kept by the courts include information related to a traffic case, such as the court dates, sentences, charges, complaints, parties, and document images.

Does a Citation Go on Your Record in Florida?

Yes. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports citations received by license holders on driver records. This includes citations for moving and non-moving traffic violations. Furthermore, if a citation leads to an arrest or conviction, the underlying traffic offense can be listed on a person's criminal record.

Types of Traffic Citations in Florida

In Florida, police officers can issue traffic citations (also called traffic tickets) to road users for civil infractions, criminal, or parking violations.

The Florida Rules of Traffic Court defines civil infractions as noncriminal offenses that are not punishable by incarceration. An offender has no right to a jury trial or court-appointed counsel. These offenses can be further classified as moving and non-moving violations, i.e., offenses that occured when a vehicle was in motion and when it was not. For example, speeding, no seat belt, careless driving, and failure to obey traffic control devices.

When someone is cited for a civil infraction in Florida, they will be expected to pay the citation, contest it, or elect for a driver improvement course (traffic school) within 30 days of the citation's issuance.

Meanwhile, criminal violations constitute a felony and misdemeanor offenses committed by motorists and other road users. These offenses are often moving violations and are treated more seriously than other traffic offenses. Examples include reckless driving, vehicular manslaughter, fleeing from a police officer, driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license, etc.

While law enforcement can cite someone for a criminal traffic violation, the offender may be arrested and booked into the county jail. In many cases, the latter is the greater possibility.

Criminal traffic charges carry a potential prison term upon conviction, unlike civil infractions. Also, any criminal traffic offender is given the right to a jury trial and court-appointed counsel.

Finally, parking citations are issued when an individual's vehicle is found to be violating a law or local ordinance. Typically, a cited individual must pay this citation within 30 days of receiving it. Otherwise, late fees and other penalties may be imposed.

Florida Traffic Citation Lookup

Anyone interested in looking up a traffic citation in Florida can search the traffic payment system on a court clerk's website. However, the site must be owned by the clerk of the court with jurisdiction over one's case. Typically, an individual will need to input their last name, driver's license number, case number, or citation number into the system to obtain results — for instance, the fine payable for an offense.

How to Lookup my Florida Traffic Records

Florida driver license owners can look up their traffic records by ordering their driver records from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). Record requests can be submitted online, in person, or via mail.

Online: The online method is for people who want to check their license status or child's driving history. A license holder can use FLHSMV's Online Driver License Check to view the current status of their license for free. The system requires the entry of a driver's license number and reCaptcha to retrieve the information. However, additional information may be required if the query is being made for an individual under 18 years. This includes the driver's date of birth and the last digits of their social security number, which will be required before a parent can view their child's driving history.

Mail: Anyone who requires a copy of their driver record (which carries information about traffic violations and sanctions) can submit a completed and signed Driver License Record Request form together with the appropriate fee to this address:

Bureau of Records
2900 Apalachee Parkway, Mail Stop 52
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0575

Typically, an individual can purchase a 3-year, 7-year, complete, or certified driver record from the FLHSMV. A 3-year driver record costs $8 while others cost $10 each. Payment can be made by money order or check addressed to the Division of Motorist Services. The processing time for mail requests is 10 business days.

In-person: Alternatively, Florida license holders, most especially people who want a faster processing time, can visit a driver's license service center, private vendor, or court clerk who offers the service to order driver records. A clerk's office address can be obtained by clicking the applicable county on the FLHSMV location page.

Florida traffic case records may also be available from third-party websites since they are considered public records. Unlike government sources or websites, third-party websites do not have geographical limitations. Hence, interested parties may access these websites from anywhere in the world. However, some third-party websites may require registration or subscription to access traffic record.

Florida License Plate Lookup

Florida license plate lookups are vital for a variety of reasons. License plates can be used to track down the owner of a vehicle, identify stolen cars, and help solve hit-and-run accidents. They can also be used to locate witnesses to a crime. Hence, license plate information is a critical component of Florida traffic records.

Looking up license plate information in Florida is relatively easy. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) maintains a database of all registered vehicles in the state. This database can be searched online or through the DHSMV's toll-free telephone line.

There are a few things to keep in mind when looking up license plates in Florida:

  1. The DHSMV only maintains information on registered vehicles. If a car is not registered, the DHSMV will not have any information.
  2. The DHSMV does not maintain information on leased vehicles. The lessee's name will be listed in the database, but the vehicle's license plate number will not be included.
  3. The DHSMV charges a fee for license plate lookups.

The fee is $3.00 per search, and the maximum amount that can be charged per year is $90.00. Finally, not all information in the DHSMV's database is available to the public. For example, the name of a vehicle's registered owner is not released to the public unless the owner has given permission.

Looking up license plate information in Florida can be a helpful way to track down the owner of a vehicle or find witnesses to a crime. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that not all information in the DHSMV's database is available to the public.

How to View Traffic Case Records for Free in Florida

Members of the public can view traffic case records for free in Florida through web-based public access databases maintained by the court clerks. Typically, an individual does not require registration or login details (username or password) to search such databases, only a case number, citation number, or a defendant's name.

Alternatively, interested persons can visit the courthouse where a case was heard. Because traffic case records fall under Florida's Sunshine Law, requesters are not liable to pay money to inspect or view a record.

How Long do Traffic Offenses Remain on a Public Record in Florida

The duration within which a traffic offense remains on a public record in Florida depends on the type of record and violation. If the offense appears on someone's driver record, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles retains the record as follows:

  • Most moving and non-moving violations: 3 to 5 years unless the offense is severe. For serious offenses, retention varies according to the offense's severity. It could be as much as 10 years, 15 years, or more.
  • Alcohol-related violations: 75 years
  • Serious CDL (commercial driver license) violations: Retention varies. The department may hold the record for 10 years, 55 years, etc.

Other retention periods can be viewed on the department's Questions About Driver Records page.

However, if the traffic offense appears on an individual's public criminal record, there is no limit to how long it will remain there. Usually, the record is permanent unless the court seals or expunges it.

How to Remove Traffic Records from Public Websites in Florida

Florida's Sunshine Law considers most traffic records to be public information. As a result, the records are not only released to the public (including nonresidents) upon demand but, as a secondary effect, certain companies can collect the information contained in a traffic record and publish it on public websites. For example, companies that run people search sites (also known as data brokers).

Now, most data brokers provide a means to prevent such records from being redistributed via a removal or opt-out tool on their websites. A record owner may also have the option of contacting the company directly to request removal. However, it is always possible that a record may reappear when the subject commits another offense or new information about that person exists. Hence, frequent monitoring of the web is advised.

Furthermore, if the traffic record pertains to a criminal offense, an individual can seek to expunge or seal their record as a way to keep it off the internet. This is because once any Florida court enters an expungement or sealing order, it becomes a criminal offense for anyone to release that information unless authorized by the court.

Ultimately, it is best to consult a lawyer on what information can be removed, altered, or limited from a public site. A local county clerk or the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle may also provide some insight.

Do Motoring Offenses Affect Criminal Records in Florida?

In Florida, some motoring/traffic offenses result in a citation and criminal charges. This happens when an individual's offense is so severe that they can only face prosecution in the state. An example is an offense of driving under the influence (the 3rd offense or if it involves serious bodily injury) or when someone is considered a habitual traffic offender.

As is typical with criminal traffic charges, the offense will be reported on their criminal record once a person is arrested or convicted. This could cause hardships in keeping or finding a job, housing challenges, and financial problems, among other repercussions.