Drivers license held hostage

by Driver x

I went to pay a fine I had for a speeding ticket, and instead was handed a card for the collection agency by the courts. When I contacted agency, Penn Credit, they told me interest had been added on at 40 percent! Due this excessive amount tacked on, I can't afford to pay it and now in jeopardy of having a suspended license all over again. How can the court refuse to take my payment and then send me to a collection with crazy fees? How is this legal, I understand that government debt is a little different. There was no contract for fees on a ticket? Please help! I feel like my drivers license is being held hostage?

Comments for Drivers license held hostage

Click here to add your own comments

May 29, 2013
Drivers license held hostage

Given that your fine was so past due that the court had already turned the debt over to a collection agency when you finally went to pay it, the court was not obligated to take your payment and was within its right to tell you to contact the collection agency that has your debt.

We are not familiar with how things work in FL so we cannot say if the collection agency is legally entitled to charge you a 40% interest rate. To find out that information,contact a consumer law attorney in your area who helps people deal with debt collectors.

However, it is extremely important that you resolve your ticket problem ASAP. There are a couple reasons for this warning: First, the court could issue a warrant for your attest for failing to pay your ticket and you could end up in jail.

Second, given that your license has probably been suspended, if you drive your car anyway and are pulled over, you could be charged criminally and do jail time. Also, the collector may get the court's permission to collect what you owe by garnishing your wages or taking money from your bank account.

Meanwhile, the unpaid ticket is probably being reported in your credit histories, which will make it difficult to get new credit and the insurance you may need and could even affect your ability to qualify for a job or rent a place to live.

So, contact a lawyer as we suggested to find out of you are being charged an appropriate interest rate. Assuming you are, you have a couple options: 1. Try to work out a payment plan with the collection agency since you cannot pay what you owe in full; and 2. Contact the court and find out if you could pay off all or part of the ticket by doing community service.

Nov 22, 2013
Absurd answer. Is there anyone who has an answer to the question that actually is relevant?
by: Anonymous

For the previous comment, the high horse you're riding on needs to be put out to pasture. Not only did you fail to answer the question in any way that was helpful, your argument that this person should be subject to any fees that the collection company wants to impose because he/she didn't pay the ticket on time is outrageous.

The courts are entitled to their money; no one is disputing that. The question is HOW MUCH is the COLLECTION company entitled to for "attempting to collect a debt" that WAS ALREADY PAID? 40%? 80%? Maybe a couple grand on a $200 ticket, because they know that you have to pay it or you risk losing your license? But thanks so much for letting us all know how important it is to have a drivers license, because I needed to be informed of what might happen in my license was suspended and I was caught driving. Ugh. Also, it might be convenient for you to assume this fellow failed to pay the fine for months or years before they sent it to collections; fyi, my ticket for a non moving violation was sent to collections after 30 days, AND after I had already made arrangements to pay it- the court sent it over anyways, and then I was required to pay the fine in addition to $100 non negotiable fee to the collection company who did absolutely nothing to earn that money. They had it in their office for exactly one day before receiving payment, and because I called to rectify it on the day I'd promised to do so. My fault for paying late? Of course, no one is disputing that. What needs to be addressed is: what is a fair percentage a third party agency can charge on a debt that is days old,not months and years, and has an extremely HIGH chance - close to 100% likelihood, in fact- of getting paid because no one wants to lose their license? Considering also that they will have to put forth very little effort to collect on said debt, because more often than not, folks like Mr Speeder and myself are the ones calling them to pay it, not the other way around, only to be informed of the ridiculous fees and interest that must be paid on top of the original fine. Also FYI, you can try to make payment arrangements with them, as you suggested, but be aware you cannot have your license back, nor avoid sanction, until it is paid IN FULL, base fine and the fees and interest. So, truly, your license is held hostage, and only released until you comply with the sky high fees the agency wants to charge you.

Now, does anyone have an actual answer to our question? What is the cap on third party collecting fees and interest when the agency is collecting on a court fine and/or traffic citation? Thanks!!

Dec 03, 2013
Fees for unpaid tickets and fines

The fees for unpaid traffic fines can be steep. It's our understanding that in Florida they are based on state statutes as well as county regulations. Unfortunately we don't have a list of collection rates that can be charged in every county and aren't even sure where to find that information. (What we have found is vague on that and would require some research into local practices as far as we can tell.)

We also don't know what kind of arrangements there are between the courts and the collection agencies. It may be that the collection agency is required to collect a specific minimum amount under their contract with the county and may not have complete leeway to negotiate something affordable.

If you can't get anywhere with the court or the collection agency, then our suggested is you contact your local elected official - your county commissioner, for example, or even your state elected official (in your state legislature, not in Washington). They often have staff members who try to help local constituents dealing with problems with state and local governmental agencies.

We're sorry to hear you're having such a hard time getting back on your feet and hope you can find a solution so you can keep your license.

Jun 19, 2014
Yes - they add up to 40% of the fine!
by: Anonymous

Been there, and it was PAINFUL. Red light ticketed in May and gosh, didn't get that notice until September. By then I was no longer living in Florida to contest it and ask to see the video. Eventually it went to collections and yes, the amount was inflated by 40%, which is allowed and in the contract with the ticket issuer - Orange County Traffic Division. You may make payments, so I discovered AFTER I paid the debt collector. Also, they take their time in reporting it paid to the credit bureaus. I filed a dispute with Equifax to clear it up. That takes 30 days as well, yet you want to make sure it's reporting correctly.

Sep 01, 2014
court cost restitution
by: Anonymous

I'm in a bind with this problem as well but I totaled a rental car. I'm being charged full price for the csr at $14,000. Collection agency won't budge to help at lease for some type of permit to drive. They want full amount it was $16000 they said it was all court cost restitution. What can I do? No one has 16000 just lying around anymore. For that not us average joes an this case is over 10 years ago

Reply from

Have you spoken with a bankruptcy attorney to find out whether you can discharge some or all of this debt?

Oct 07, 2014
Florida laws as you go
by: Anonymous

Fact of the matter is any traffic infraction will cause you big trouble in Florida they have different laws than the civilized uncorrupted rest of the country. I hate Florida they ruined my life over trumped up DUI charge when I wasn't even driving nor did I have the keys on me. I was walking in a parking lot.

Feb 06, 2015
FLORIDA STATUTE 938.35 allows 40%
by: Attorney in Florida

Unfortunately, Florida Statutes 938.35 allows up to 40% charge for collections. Penn CREDIT does not negotiate settlements as I have recently learned.

Reply from

Yes, CNN Money did a very good expose of this recently in their series about the secret world of government debt collection.

Feb 17, 2015
District court / collection mafia in action.
by: Richard Vert

After a particularly hard time in my life I had lost my license for not paying tickets. (2) no license on person , (2) no insurance , (2) expired tabs & one seatbelt. no moving violations. After four years I tried to get my licence back the total was over 20,000.00 dollars. Mostly collection fees of course.Sure I should of paid but you can't give what you do not have.

Reply from

It is unconscionable what these costs can add up to. Did you see the CNN Money series titled The Secret World of Government Debt Collection? Some collection agencies are getting very wealthy off these kinds of fees.

In the meantime, have you looked into whether you can discharge these in bankruptcy? It may be worth looking into. If you need help finding a bankruptcy attorney who can offer a free consultation you can call the debt collection hotline at 888-747-6242.

Feb 20, 2015
by: Anonymous

I was disabled since 2007 I wonder can I get a car tax relief since my only income is from being disabled.

Reply from

We are sorry but we don't know the answer. Are you talking about property tax relief? You will need to consult a tax professional or your state taxing authority. We don't know what state you are in and taxes are not our area of expertise.

Feb 23, 2015
by: Anonymous

I have a $52,000 court fine that just jumped up to $72,000. My drivers license is now suspended and I hired an attorney...It seems that I am getting no where....No settlement is being made..I never received anything in the mail because they do not have a forwarding address or my social....Nothing is on my credit report yet but my license is suspended because of this...What can I do? I am 44 years old and I drive for a living , recently got married started my life back on track after doing 3 years in Prison....That is where this big fine came from....I do not know what to do I feel like this is unconstitutional. I am willing to make payments on this debt....I just cannot get my drivers license until the debt is paid in full...Again please help with some advice or direction...It seems like even with a lawyer I am getting nowhere...I am taking a big risk working without my drivers license...It is a horrible feeling, so stressed everyday because of this. Any advice?

Reply from

It sounds horribly stressful. Have you spoken with an attorney? We know it may feel like throwing good money after bad, but it sounds like you need to talk with one to find out what your options are for putting this behind you so you can become gainfully (and safely) employed again.

Feb 25, 2015
by: Anonymous

My license is suspended due to failure to appear. I didn't realize my court date, so i missed it. It was a minor traffic stop,so no reason to purposeful miss that date. I completed community service hoping this would clear tickets.

Im unemployed at this time ineligible for benefits. Please advise me on what steps should i take giving my situation.

Reply from

We're sorry to hear the difficulties you've had. It must be incredibly stressful. We don't know what state you are in, and the requirements vary by state. We suggest you type in the search engine: How to reinstate a suspended license in (name of your state) and you should be able to find out what is required. If you are still having trouble, try contacting your elected official in your state legislature - your state Senator or Representative for example. They often have staff members who help constituents cut through red tape with governmental agencies.

Mar 31, 2015
You don't need a DRIVERS LICENSE
by: Anonymous

You have a constitutional right to travel, you only need a drivers license if you are engaged in commercial transportation. Yes, they want you to believe you need one but that is false. There is plenty of information regarding this under constitutional transportation or drivers license. Try Eddie Craig, he presents the argument very well.

Apr 12, 2015
by: Anonymous

That sucks

Jun 05, 2015
unindutef motorist help who is over ccu in md
by: patty

I had a payment plan with DMV next I suffered a nervous breakdown which caused a lapse I am disabled and on a fixed income I am being charged 6000 by Baltimore dmv how can I have fines waived I am not able to register a car who can I call for help?

Reply from

We're sorry to hear what you are going through. Unfortunately, in many states people who can't afford to pay fines to reinstate their licenses are stuck in limbo, unable to drive. We don't know what the exceptions are in your state so we recommend you talk with Legal Aid. to find out what you may be able to work out.

Jun 25, 2015
by: Anonymous

I have 8 tickets that was whom incident date is all dates after my car was repoed.I miss my court date due to the fact, I didn't recieve any in the mail. I was arrest for driving with a suspended license. Now a collection agency is over my license and they are telling me i owe them 3,400 for tickets i could not have gotten, because when the car was repoed, the tag was still on the car. So whoever repoed it got the tickets.

Reply from

We wish we could advise you but the procedures in these situations vary by jurisdiction. We'd recommend you either talk with a consumer law attorney in your area, or if you can't afford one, with Legal Aid.

Jul 17, 2015
by: williefelder

I feel like if your license is surpend for seven years you should be able to get a new one bye take the test again because the law said anything is seven years old on your credit is removed why not that about your license and the law is the law so how come they have the right to hold something over your head for life that is black male how come they have the right to black male and no one else come on now how made that law should be put in jail for black male because seven years is seven years how come the law don't appear to aplie to the collection agency if its between you and the court it should stay between the court because they lock you up

Jul 31, 2015
Penn state suspending license
by: Anonymous

I just got out of prison and trying to start my life over and got my license back and got a job now penn credit took my them for court cost,14000.00. Can anyone help me?

Reply from

Have you tried getting help from Legal Aid? Type the name of your county or city in a search engine + legal aid and see if they can assist.

Aug 11, 2015
driving license
by: Anonymous

I wrote a bad check to the secretary of state 14 year's ago and it bounce so they suspended my license I can't support myself or my family please help.

Reply from

We recommend you try to contact your local Legal Aid for help. They should be familiar with your options.

Aug 30, 2015
by: Anonymous

I live in Indiana and had my license suspended for failure to appear on not paying a speeding ticket on 2005. I thought was paid come to find out it was suspended now for 10 years. I knew it was suspended for an accident on not having insurance I just paid the ticket and now they are saying I have a 90 day suspension and a reinstatement fee again that I just paid for reinstatement on the ticket and the new suspension is for not showing proof of insurance in didn't known what due in 2005 I don't even know what insurance company I had back then in don't know what to do when I just paid a reinstatement and the ticket.

Sep 09, 2015
Unfair, hidden fees on fines
by: William M.

I went to prison for a 5 year sentence to be released to my license being suspended do to court fines I didn't even know I had. Yes I broke the law and paired my debt to society. Was it not enough working for the state of Florida for four years room and board ? I'm not complaining about that though. I feel the state of Florida has now hindered me from progress by taking my license this is not what I call a fresh start. Then to find out it was turned in to a collection agency while I was still incarcerated with a 40% fee talked on for the collection agency. Boy talk about kicking someone while there down !!! Come on cut us just a little slack here. I've got the ability , the ambition and motivation to be very successful. Please stop kicking me Florida !!!!

If anyone has any ideas that may help me please don't hesitate to call, me for that or any other reason.

Nov 03, 2015
statue of limitetions
by: manuel perez

My license was suspended for unpaid minor traffic ticket by collections agency in california 10 years ago how can i get it back?

Reply from

Legal Aid in Los Angeles publishes helpful information on how to get your license reinstated in California:

Nov 27, 2015
Best solution in Florida
by: Anonymous

File bankruptcy and put Penn Credit under it. It's the only way to get your license back other than paying off the full debt.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Debt Collection Questions.

Learn how debt collection laws can help you!
This website does not provide legal advice.
All information is for educational purposes only.
Copyright 2007 - 2021 by Mary Reed and Gerri Detweiler.
All rights reserved..
Read our Privacy Policy here. Do not sell my information.