Under the authority of sections 318.30–318.38, Florida Statutes, and article V, section 2, Florida Constitution, this court adopts the following rules and procedure for the Civil Traffic Infraction Hearing Officer Program:
(a) Eligibility of County. Pursuant to section 318.30, Florida Statutes, any county shall be eligible to participate in the Civil Traffic Infraction Hearing Officer Program. The chief judge shall make the decision on whether to participate in the program.
Any county electing to participate in the program shall be subject to the supervision of the supreme court.
(b) Appointment of Traffic Hearing Officers. The chief judge shall appoint hearing officers after consultation with the county judges in the county affected; all appointments must be approved by the chief justice. Once the chief justice grants approval, the traffic hearing officers shall serve at the pleasure of the chief judge. Traffic hearing officers may serve either full-time or part-time at the discretion of the chief judge.
(c) Jurisdiction. Traffic hearing officers shall have the power to accept pleas from defendants, hear and rule upon motions, decide whether a defendant has committed an infraction, and adjudicate or withhold adjudication in the same manner as a county court judge. However, a traffic hearing officer shall not:
(1) have the power to hold any person in contempt of court, but shall be permitted to file a verified motion for order of contempt with an appropriate state trial court judge pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.840;
(2) hear a case involving an accident resulting in injury or death; or
(3) hear a criminal traffic offense case or a case involving a civil traffic infraction issued in conjunction with a criminal traffic offense.
(d) Appeals. Appeals from decisions of a traffic hearing officer shall be made to the circuit court pursuant to the relevant provisions of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure in the same manner as appeals from the county court, except that traffic hearing officers shall not have the power to certify questions to district courts of appeal. The appellant shall be responsible for producing the record for any appeal.
(e) Membership in The Florida Bar. A traffic hearing officer shall be a member in good standing of The Florida Bar.
(f) Training. Traffic hearing officers must complete 40 hours of standardized training that has been approved by the supreme court. Instructors must be judges, hearing officers, and persons with expertise or knowledge with regard to specific traffic violations or traffic court. Curriculum and materials must be submitted to the Office of the State Courts Administrator. The standardized training must contain, at a minimum, all of the following:
(1) 28 hours of lecture sessions including 2.5 hours of ethics, 5 hours of courtroom control management, 11 hours of basic traffic court law and evidence (which must include handling of situations in which a defendant’s constitutional right against self- incrimination may be implicated), 3 hours of clerk’s office/DMV training, 2 hours of participant perspective sessions/demonstrations, 3 hours of dispositions/penalties, and 1.5 hours of civil infractions/jurisdiction;
(2) 4 hours of role playing including mock opening statements, pretrial and trial sessions, and direct observation;
(3) 4 hours of observation including 2 hours of on-road observation of traffic enforcement;
(4) 4 hours of mentored participation in traffic court proceedings in the hiring county. Mentors must be county court judges or traffic hearing officers; and
(5) written training manuals for reference.
(g) Continuing Legal Education. Traffic hearing officers must complete 4 hours of continuing legal education per year. The continuing legal education program must be approved by the supreme court and must contain a minimum of 2 hours of ethics or professionalism, and 2 hours of civil traffic infraction related education. Curriculum materials must be submitted to the Office of the State Courts Administrator.
(h) Code of Judicial Conduct. All traffic hearing officers shall be subject to the Code of Judicial Conduct as provided in the application section of the code.
(i) Robes. Traffic hearing officers shall not wear robes.
(j) Concurrent Jurisdiction. A county judge may exercise concurrent jurisdiction with a traffic hearing officer.
(k) Assignment to County Judge. On written request of the defendant, within 30 days of the issuance of the uniform traffic citation, the case shall be assigned to a county judge.