When a Pensacola college student rear-ended another driver, it crushed the front of his own car. Then he got billed $714 by the county police and firefighters who responded to the car accident. The fee has been called a “crash tax,” and on Monday a Florida Senate committee voted unanimously to approve a proposed ban on so-called crash taxes. Six other states have already banned them, since they are not always covered by auto insurance and many consider them unfair.
However, many municipalities say they are a necessary fee to cover the time that police and firefighters take away from other duties. They say that declining property taxes and smaller budgets make the fee a necessity.
In Escambia County, Florida drivers are assessed a fee regardless of whether they are a resident. Officials decide who is at fault and charge that person $10 for every minutes of a firefighter’s time and an additional $600 for a fire engine. The county waives the fees if a resident’s car insurance doesn’t cover it. The county has collected $19,000 since the fee began in 2007.