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Red Light Cameras

Red light cameras in Florida have been a source of contention – and confusion – since their inception and introduction.

Florida trial and appellate courts have issued conflicting rulings as to whether the devices are even legal while those who oppose them view them as little more than an unconstitutional money grab by local governments. Those in support insist they save lives, even as it has been proven that there are increases in rear-end collisions at red light camera intersections, suggesting drivers fearing a ticket make sudden – and dangerous – stops.

The legality and value of these systems will continue to be hotly contested, and it’s likely at some point the Florida Supreme Court will weigh in.

What is not debated is that there is usually a better outcome for those who fight red light camera tickets, as opposed to simply paying the fine. At The Ansara Law firm, our South Florida Red Light Camera Defense Attorneys are committed to ensuring our clients’ rights and interests are protected.

What Are Red Light Cameras?

Red light cameras – short for red light running camera – is a type of traffic enforcement device that uses sensors and cameras to capture automated images of vehicles detected moving into or through an intersection after the traffic signal has turned red.

Most are attached to poles, and they are usually installed at intersections that police and other safety officials have flagged for ongoing problems with red light running.

The systems typically record the date and time of the incident, the speed of the accused violator, the time elapsed from when the light turned red to the time the vehicle moved through the intersection. These images are captured in either a series of photos or in a short video clip

The devices are used globally (they were invented in the Netherlands) and have been around since the 1960s. In the U.S., they began cropping up in the 1990s. They are used in 26 states – including Florida – while a handful of states have specifically banned them.

Legality of Red Light Cameras in Florida

In Florida, the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, codified in F.S. 316.0083, in 2010 allowed all cities in the state to use red light cameras on state-owned roads and set forth a standardized fine schedule for violators.

By 2015, the state issued 963,000 tickets, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which reports there are 70 cities and counties in Florida that use the cameras. For each $158 fine, the state rakes in 58 percent, which in 2015 worked out to $54 million.

The question of whether or not they are legal has been raised and challenged in numerous court cases across the state, with differing results.

For example, Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal ruled in the 2104 case of City of Hollywood v. Arem that the city was illegally delegating law enforcement functions to a private company (i.e., the camera provider). But then in 2016, Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled in State of Florida v. Jimenez that red light cameras are legal under Florida law because their results are reviewed by a law enforcement officer. In most cases, the camera companies review the video and photo evidence and then refer potential violations to law enforcement for review to decide whether to issue a citation. Because these two rulings conflict, the Florida Supreme Court has been asked to weigh in.

A group of traffic attorneys who won the Hollywood case have filed a class action lawsuit seeking government reimbursement to motorists for the citations.

Meanwhile, cities and counties have adopted their own varying rules. For examples, Miami-Dade commissioners voted in 2016 to strike down the 2010 policy that allowed the cameras to operate in unincorporated areas of the county.

Challenging Red Light Camera Tickets

You have a few options once you have received a red light ticket Notice of Violation (NOV). This is not a ticket. If you pay the $158 right away, a ticket is never actually issued and nothing goes on your driving record.

You do have the option to challenge the NOV, but this is done through a municipal process, not an actual court of law. As such, regular rules of evidence do not need to be followed.

However, if that NOV goes past due, then a ticket is issued and at that point and then you can fight the matter in traffic court.

You may argue:

  • You weren’t the one driving the vehicle;
  • You didn’t run the red light/ the images are inaccurate;
  • The city/ county is wrong for delegating a police power to a private entity and thus, the ticket should be void.

Understand that if you are issued a uniform traffic citation, fines can increase to $277, citations will go on your driving record and failure to pay could lead to license suspension. Violations will not result in additional points on your license. These kinds of penalties sometimes deter the accused from seeking legal help. It shouldn’t. There are often cost effective ways we can help you protect your license and driving record.

Contact the experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (954) 761-4011.

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