Red-light cameras have become tantamount to cockroaches in South Florida. It seems like they pop up everywhere. 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.
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.” (what is a prudent manner?) 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 an 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.
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.