A traffic mishap leading to a $120 fine and the headaches of dealing with government bureaucracy have Miles Moss annoyed.
The incident has led the longtime Winston Park resident and traffic expert to challenge a Florida statute that exacted the higher of two payments when asked to provide proof of insurance for his car, driven by a second person and involved in a minor fender-bender.
“The insurance was in force but the little card with the current date was home in my desk drawer,” Moss said. “I showed the officer last year’s card I had in my wallet, but the officer cited me anyway.”
At the Clerk of the Courts office in the South Dade Government Center to pay what he thought would be a $10 fine (as Florida Statute 316.066 allows), it turned out what he had been cited by the Florida Highway Patrol for carried a $120 fine.
A former Miami-Dade County traffic engineer who regularly provides expert testimony in traffic litigation, Moss then took up the case with Florida Highway Patrol, only to discover the original citation as issued was legally correct.
“Two statutes are applicable, one that allows the officer to issue a $10 fine or a $120 fine, depending upon the circumstances involved,” Moss explained, after an FHP captain even agreed that at the discretion of the clerk, the citation requiring a higher fee could have been dismissed by proving then that the insurance existed.
“The officer agreed the system really made no sense but added they ‘don’t write the statutes, they only enforce them,’” said Moss, who doggedly pursued the issue with Harvey Ruvin, Miami-Dade Clerk of the Courts.
“His people agreed with me about a ‘double fine’ and said to keep them informed if I can find a legislator to clean up the statutes,” Moss replied with a hint of dissatisfaction. “I wonder if the county doesn’t actually prefer the statutes as they stand. They collect more money that way.
“Frankly, I’m surprised that Mr. Ruvin doesn’t exhibit a bit more care,” he added, vowing he would continue a search for an empathetic legislator.
“I paid the $120 as I presume others have, rather than waste any more time,” concluded the former long-time president of Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations. “The arbitrary option in the statute should be eliminated.”