Florida Legislature approves ban on ‘first responders’ fee

| 5/28/2009

With several cash-strapped communities in the state having enacted “crash taxes,” the Florida Legislature approved a bill that would prohibit counties and cities from charging a fee when police and fire personnel respond to vehicle accidents.

House lawmakers voted 102-15 to advance the bill – S2282 – outlawing crash taxes to Gov. Charlie Crist’s desk. The Senate already approved it by unanimous consent.

Local governments would be prohibited from applying the accident-response fee on drivers, owners of vehicles or insurance providers for emergency personnel responding to a vehicle accident. The ban would not affect ambulance services.

Supporters say the accident-response fees, which can total several hundred dollars depending on which personnel respond and how long they are present, are a form of double taxation.

Opponents say the fees are needed to stretch already tight budgets. Others say taxpayers shouldn’t be billed for accidents they didn’t cause.

If signed into law, Florida would become the seventh state to prohibit accident-response fees. Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Tennessee already have forbidden the fees.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Florida in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.