Red light cameras have become tantamount to cockroaches in South Florida. It seems like they pop up everywhere and trying to rid ourselves of the hordes seems to be an endeavor that is as equally challenging as the banishment of these pests. Like with a cockroach infestation, it is time to throw on the lights and expose red light traffic cameras for the financial scourge upon drivers that they are. Like the introduction of an invasive species, an out-of-state company has a corner on the red light camera industry in Florida, and they make thousands of dollars off of each and every camera that they have installed and continue to maintain here. They are, however, not the only company that gets a portion of Florida’s red light camera revenue.
My regular readers surely know by now the distain with which I view these money-making monstrosities. I see them as nothing more than another way for municipalities to inflict their “traffic ticket tax” upon unsuspecting drivers. There are many proponents of these traffic ticket cameras, but there are just as many detractors.
Those who support their use usually have a vested interest in doing so – the companies who install and maintain them make huge sums of money from them; the local politicians who ride the contentious, and hotly debated, wave of declarations that they increase safety at intersections; the law enforcement agencies whose budgets benefit from the increased number of fines they can impose; and the legislators who are seeking re-election and are targeted by lobbyists.
Those who oppose the use of these cameras often do so because they feel as I do. It is a flawed system that often charges fines to people who don’t deserve them with the express purpose of filling the city or county coffers. Rolling right-hand turns is one major source of contention for drivers as well as traffic ticket attorneys. The law governing right-hand turns can be quite ambiguous. The general statute that addresses this issue states that “a citation may not be issued for failure to stop at a red light if the driver is making a right-hand turn in a careful and prudent manner at an intersection where right-hand turns are permissible.” The same statute states that a traffic citation cannot be issued if the driver came to a complete stop after crossing over the stop line and before proceeding with the right-hand turn, but many of my clients have been issued tickets for just such action.
I also take issue with the law stating that an authorized “traffic infraction enforcement officer” can review information obtained from traffic infraction devices and subsequently issue a traffic citation. Let me be clear here – the authorized traffic infraction enforcement officer is often someone from a private company, not a cop, who is issuing red light traffic tickets. The fact that these devices are installed and monitored by these private companies at the behest of police departments, counties, or municipalities makes them an authorized traffic infraction enforcement officer. Yep, that’s right – some guy sitting at a desk working for a private company in Arizona or elsewhere is issuing your traffic ticket and a significant portion of your traffic ticket fine goes to pay him to do so.
Yet it seems like the State of Florida has been increasing the amount of traffic ticket cameras at a rapid pace, in spite of their numerous flaws. In addition to many drivers getting red light traffic citations for making right-hand turns, the problems that this type of traffic citation can create are plentiful. They don’t allow for certain verifications that being stopped by a cop afford, such as confirming who the driver is at the time the infraction was committed. Traffic camera tickets are issued to the registered owner of the vehicle, period. If you let someone borrow your car and they commit a traffic camera violation, you will be the person receiving the traffic ticket in the mail, and you will also be the one responsible for paying the fines and having points assessed against your license. That means that it’s your insurance rate that can be effected, not that of the actual driver.
Another problem with the traffic signals where traffic cameras are installed is the shortened duration of yellow lights. Instead of maintaining or even extending yellow lights at intersections that have these traffic cameras, the duration of yellow lights has actually been shortened. This causes drivers to either have to try to speed up to get through the intersection, or actually come to a rapid halt to avoid getting a traffic ticket. Both of these actions can have serious ramifications to the driver who is trying to proceed and the other drivers around him.
In addition to these and other flaws, I and other traffic ticket attorneys question the constitutionality of these traffic ticket cameras and the traffic tickets that are generated from their use. The fact that their use precludes a driver from the right to confront the “witness” is a question of whether or not the driver is being granted his right to due process of the law. For this and many other reasons, the validity of their use has been called into question in courts of law hundreds of times. Although the court system has vacillated to one degree or another many times, regrettably they are still legal in Florida.
Under the guise of public safety, cities and counties all over Florida continue to reap the financial harvest that traffic ticket cameras provide. There are, however, a few cities that have come to realize that these traffic cameras not only do not provide much in the way of public safety, but they do provide a lot of contention from unhappy citizens who have been penalized by the inaccuracy of this system. Additionally, they are costly to install, costly to maintain, and the amount of money that is required to continually fight these traffic camera-generated tickets is not worth the financial return. As such, the best hope that drivers have of repealing the use of traffic cameras is to continue to fight these traffic camera tickets in court.
It may seem pointless to fight your traffic camera ticket when you get a picture of your license plate in the mail along with the traffic citation, but the Traffic Ticket Team has successfully fought countless numbers of these traffic tickets, and we can probably help you with your red light camera ticket, too. There are many defenses that we can employ to help you deal with your traffic ticket, so give us a call at 954-967-9888 for a free consultation.