Red Light Camera Update

Red LightA significant ruling from the Fourth District Court of Appeal this week may have a large impact on the red-light cameras, not only in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, but throughout the State of Florida.

The 4th DCA issued a 9 page opinion on Wednesday, dismissing a traffic ticket issued in 2011 as a result of a red-light violation. In its ruling, the court held that the city of Hollywood, Florida cannot delegate its legal authority to issue traffic tickets to a private, for-profit third party – in this case, American Traffic Solutions (ATS). ATS is a Phoenix, Arizona company that administers a majority of the red light cameras throughout the State of Florida. Basically, after someone runs a red light, the red-light camera sends the picture and video of the violation to ATS, who then reviews the video to determine if a violation occurred and then sends the information to the applicable Florida Law Enforcement agency.

In its ruling, the Court said:

For all practical purposes, it is the vendor that decides which cases the TIEO [Traffic Infraction Enforcement Officer] gets to review; it is the vendor who initially determines who is subject to prosecution for a red light violation; it is the vendor that obtains the information necessary for the completion of the citation; it is the vendor that creates the actual citation; it is the vendor that issues the citation to the registered owner of the vehicle; and, it is the vendor that eventually transmits the traffic citation data to the court. . . . Although the City may have some input into who eventually is prosecuted, that decision is wholly dependent upon the vendor’s initial determination. 

. . . Florida Law does not grant the City any authority to delegate to a private third-party vendor the ability to issue uniform traffic citations. The City also lacks the lawful authority to outsource to a third-party vendor the ability to make the initial review of computer images of purported violations and then use its unfettered discretion to decide which images are sent to the TIEO, and which ones are not. The City improperly delegated its police powers when it contractually outsourced its statutory obligations to a for-profit, non-governmental corporation.”

The full decision can be found on the 4th DCA’s website, here: 4D12-1312-City of Hollywood, a political subdivision of the State of Florida v. Eric Arem

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Golfer Greg Norman defeats Red Light Traffic Ticket

Jupiter Island resident and golf legend, Greg Norman, has reportedly escaped the punishment of a red light traffic camera ticket in Palm Beach County, Florida, by claiming that he was not driving his vehicle on the day of the alleged infraction, and reporting the person who was allegedly driving. Full Story found here.

As discussed in my previous article, Red Light Traffic Tickets in Florida, one of the defenses to a red light camera ticket is that the owner of the vehicle was not driving during the infraction. Under Florida Statute Section 316.0083, a “notice of violation” is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle that has allegedly run a red light – thus, if the owner claims that another person was actually driving the vehicle when the offense occurred, he or she may have a viable defense to the ticket. However, in order to claim the defense, the owner of the vehicle has to submit an affidavit that includes the name, address, date of birth, and, if known, the driver license number of the person the owner is claiming had control of the motor vehicle at the time of the violation.

Casey Reiter is an associate attorney at Stuart R. Manoff & Associates, P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida, practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and Marital Law.

Red Light Traffic Tickets in Florida

Red light traffic camera tickets are still somewhat of a new animal in the Florida traffic ticket world. Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 316.0083 (the “Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Program”), anyone who runs a red light that has a traffic camera may be issued a “notice of violation” within 30 days. The “notice of violation,” contrary to popular belief, is not actually a traffic ticket – instead, it is a fine of $158, which the driver can pay to avoid the notice turning into a traffic ticket. A person who receives a notice of violation may also request a hearing within 60 days, instead of paying the ticket, to contest the validity of the notice.  

If the driver fails to pay the $158 fine within 60 days, or to request a hearing, an actual traffic ticket for running a red light will be issued and the fine more than doubles and may include points on the driver’s license. 

The “notice of violation” is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle involved. In the case of joint ownership, the notice will be issued to the first person named on the registration. The owner has the right to review the pictures of the infraction or the streaming video evidence. The evidence constitutes a rebuttable presumption that the owner of the vehicle has committed the infraction; this means that the owner of the vehicle is presumed guilty, however, he may provide evidence to show that it was not actually the driver of the vehicle or that there was some defense to the violation. For example, a driver may not be ticketed 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 turns on red are allowed. Additionally, a driver may not be ticketed if the driver came to a complete stop after crossing the stop line and before turning right. A driver may also not be ticketed if he passed through the intersection to yield right-of-way to an emergency vehicle or a funeral procession, or if he passed through the intersection following the direction of a police officer. A person may not be issued a red light ticket in addition to being issued a ticket by a live police officer after the event; only one ticket for running a red light may result from running a red light.

Finally, the owner of the vehicle can contest that he was the driver at the time of the infraction. The State has to be able to tie the vehicle to the ticketed individual by establishing that the driver was the owner. If the owner contests that he was the person actually driving the vehicle at the time of the red light infraction, the owner has to submit an affidavit that includes the name, address, date of birth, and, if known, the driver license number of the person the owner is claiming had control of the motor vehicle at the time of the violation. Further, if the owner is arguing that the vehicle was stolen at the time of the offense, the affidavit must include the police report regarding the stolen vehicle.

 

Casey Reiter is an associate attorney at Stuart R. Manoff & Associates, P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida, practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and Marital Law.