‘Operation Green Light’ in Polk aims to ease traffic fines, help residents get driver’s licenses back

For one day, Polk County will put the brakes on collection fees to help residents who have a suspended driver’s license.

In an initiative called "Operation Green Light," those with a suspended driver’s license can pay overdue court fees, like traffic tickets, and save up to 40% in additional fees, according to the county. After, customers can begin the steps to reinstate their driver’s license.

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27. Residents can pay by calling 863-534-4446 or heading to one of these three locations:

  • Bartow Courthouse: 255 N. Broadway Ave.
  • Lakeland Government Center: 930 E. Parker St.
  • Northeast Government Center: 3425 Lake Alfred Road in Winter Haven

Masks and health screenings will be required in order to enter either building.

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"Individuals who are not eligible to reinstate their license at the event will be able to answer questions as to any other requirements that need to be met," according to a county statement. "Customers are strongly encouraged to jump-start the process by calling the Clerk’s office ahead of time so that their cases can be reviewed and save them time on the day of the event."

Officials said customers must pay the fine in the county they received the fine. Payment methods include cash, money order, credit card, or checks. There is a 3.5% processing fee is applied to credit card purchases.

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will be present at the Bartow Courthouse to print new licenses for those who are eligible for reinstatement.

During last year’s Operation Green Light event, Polk customers saved $65,190, officials said. During 2019 and 2020’s events combined, 526 cases were paid in full, 470 cases were placed on a payment plan, 68 driver licenses were reinstated, and 766 driver licenses were made eligible for reinstatement. 

Approximately $273,835 in fines were collected in total between 2019 and 2020.

As of December 2020, there are about 225,860 Polk County civil traffic cases in outside collections. In 2020, 6,236 Civil Traffic cases were sent to outside collections. Polk County officials said the average outstanding traffic fine amount is about $259.