318.32 Jurisdiction; limitations.—
(1) Hearing officers shall be empowered to accept pleas from and decide the guilt or innocence of any person, adult or juvenile, charged with any civil traffic infraction and shall be empowered to adjudicate or withhold adjudication of guilt in the same manner as a county court judge under the statutes, rules, and procedures presently existing or as subsequently amended, except that hearing officers shall not:
(a) Have the power to hold a defendant in contempt of court, but shall be permitted to file a motion for order of contempt with the appropriate state trial court judge;
(b) Hear a case involving a crash resulting in injury or death;
(c) Hear a criminal traffic offense case or a case involving a civil traffic infraction issued in conjunction with a criminal traffic offense; or
(d) Have the power to suspend or revoke a defendant’s driver’s license pursuant to s. 316.655(2).
(2) This section does not prohibit a county court judge from exercising concurrent jurisdiction with a civil traffic hearing officer.
(3) Upon the request of the defendant contained in a Notice of Appearance or a written plea, the case shall be assigned to a county court judge regularly assigned to hear traffic matters.
History.–s. 3, ch. 89-337; s. 1, ch. 91-152; s. 4, ch. 94-202; s. 255, ch. 99-248; s. 51, ch. 2005-236; s. 26, ch. 2006-290.
318.325 Jurisdiction and procedure for parking infractions.–Any county or municipality may adopt an ordinance that allows the county or municipality to refer cases involving the violation of a county or municipal parking ordinance to a hearing officer. Notwithstanding the provisions of ss. 318.14 and 775.08(3), any parking violation shall be deemed to be an infraction as defined in s. 318.13(3). However, the violation must be enforced and disposed of in accordance with the provisions of general law applicable to parking violations and with the charter or code of the county or municipality where the violation occurred. The clerk of the court or the designated traffic violations bureau must collect and distribute the fines, forfeitures, and court costs assessed under this section.
History.–s. 1, ch. 94-202; s. 101, ch. 2003-402; s. 62, ch. 2004-265; s. 52, ch. 2005-236.
318.33 Appeals.–Decisions of the hearing officer are appealable, under the rules of court, to the circuit court. Appeals shall be based upon the record of the hearing before the hearing officer and shall not be hearings de novo. Appellants are responsible for producing the record of the hearing beyond that which normally results from the civil traffic infraction hearing process.
History.–s. 4, ch. 89-337; s. 5, ch. 94-202.
318.34 Qualifications.–Applicants for the position of hearing officer of the civil traffic court shall be members in good standing of The Florida Bar and shall have completed a 40-hour education and training program which has been approved by the Florida Supreme Court. Thereafter, hearing officers shall complete an approved 4-hour continuing education program annually.
History.–s. 5, ch. 89-337; s. 6, ch. 94-202.
318.35 Term of office.–Hearing officers shall be independent contractors and may serve either full time or part time as determined by the chief judge. In either case, they shall serve at the pleasure of the chief judge of the county and circuit in which they are to hear cases and shall have no definite term of office.
History.–s. 6, ch. 89-337; s. 7, ch. 94-202.
318.36 Code of ethics.–Hearing officers shall be subject to The Florida Bar Code of Professional Responsibility and not the Judicial Code of Ethics, except that they shall avoid practices or occupations that would constitute a conflict of interest or give the appearance of impropriety. Whether serving full time or part time, hearing officers shall be prohibited from representing clients or practicing before any other hearing officer of a civil traffic court or from representing any client appealing the decision of any other hearing officer. A civil traffic infractions hearing officer appointed under s. 318.30 shall have judicial immunity in the same manner and to the same extent as judges.
History.–s. 7, ch. 89-337; s. 8, ch. 94-202; s. 10, ch. 99-248.
318.38 Nonseverability.–If the provisions of s. 318.32 authorizing hearing officers to impose the same sanctions as county court judges for civil traffic infractions are found to be unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court, then the hearing officers shall have no further jurisdiction over any civil traffic infractions.
History.–s. 9, ch. 89-337; s. 10, ch. 94-202.