Operation Green Light under way; local program helps get drivers back on the road
The annual statewide initiative to help drivers get back on the road, Operation Green Light, kicked off on Nov. 9 with a strong focus on helping individuals pay off their toll violations.
Operation Green Light helps individuals pay their overdue traffic tickets, or court fees, putting them one step closer to having their drivers license reinstated. The fees and fines must be paid in the county in which the fee is owed.
This year the Operation Green Light in Lee County will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily now through Nov. 19; from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 20; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 21. Only TeleClerk service is available during extended office hours.
Individuals can participate by connecting through TeleClerk, which can be found at www.LeeClerk.org, video conference, or by calling 239-533-5000. Only credit cards are accepted in these two options. Those who wish to pay in cash, or check, can do so at the Justice Center, at 2075 MLK Blvd., Fort Myers.
Clerk Linda Doggett said they are encouraging online services if an individual can manage that option because they have social distancing in place inside of the lobby.
“We have a remote get in line feature because we can’t have so many people in our lobby. If they come to our building, they get in line remotely on their cell phone and they have to wait outside, or in their car until it is their turn,” she said.
Those who wish to visit the Justice Center will have their temperatures checked at security checkpoints. Face coverings are required and social distancing is enforced.
Doggett said about four years ago they began Operation Green Light, which has been successful in years past. Last year nearly 850 customers saved more than $1 million with 545 of them becoming eligible to get their license back.
“Most of those were toll violations. That is really our target,” Doggett said.
During last year’s event, she said she realized that there are very few counties left who send their toll violations to the Clerk’s Office. The majority send them to collections. She said by statue there is an extra $100 as a late fine, and $100 per statue as a filling fee.
“I worked with the county in January and they stopped sending the toll violations to the Clerks Office and started sending it to collections,” Doggett said.
There are 42,000 toll cases in the system, which is about 6,600 people due to many people having multiple tolls to pay off.
“It’s such an outrageous amount of money to try to pay off. We are negotiating their toll per case for $10,” she said.
In other words if there are 10 outstanding tolls, the fine is $100 if the individual can pay that amount off.
“Our main target is working on outstanding toll cases to help those people that are overwhelmed by the dollar amount that they owe us,” Doggett said. “By the time it gets to us it’s somewhere around $230 for a $1 or $2 (tolls). Plus (they) lost their driver’s license because they couldn’t pay it. After this event, if folks contact us, we can work with them on these toll violations. They should not just give up if they miss the event.”
In addition to the toll violations, Operation Green Light also takes care of traffic tickets, anything that does not require a court appearance, such as traffic infractions for speeding.
“Those cases we are waiving the collection agency fees,” Doggett said, adding that for it to qualify it has to be late, in collections and suspension of a driver’s license.“That collection agency fee is 25 percent of what they owe, so we can save that 25 percent. They can pay it off, or get on a payment plan and they will have those savings as a benefit.”
Payment plans are also a huge benefit to individuals as they will have substantial savings.
For more information, visit www.LeeClerk.org/ogl.