courtesy of the Sun Sentinel
Red Light Cameras to Stay in Florida
Red-light cameras are legal after all, but many South Florida cities say they won’t be using them. Red light cameras are in Florida to stay.
The Florida Supreme Court recently rejected an argument that the city of Aventura gave too much power to an outside vendor to determine whether the cameras’ photos showed traffic violations.
The ruling preserves the state’s red-light camera law, which lawmakers have failed to rescind in recent years, but not for lack of trying. Tickets carry a $158 fine.
Individual City Findings
But several elected officials throughout South Florida, from Boca Raton to Hollywood, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel they had no plans to turn their red-light cameras back on.
Hallandale Beach was the first city in Broward to ditch the cameras in January 2014.
Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy said he too has no intention of reviving the city’s camera program.
Delray Beach never had a red-light camera program and doesn’t intend to start now, despite the ruling.
“It’s a policy decision that would have to come before the commission,” Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia said. “I’m only one person, but I probably wouldn’t consider it as a revenue source. I consider it punitive.”
Petrolia said she would rather place a patrol officer on a busy traffic corner than rely on a camera.
Added Delray Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Goldman: “We haven’t had a red-light program, and we are not considering one.”
The city of Boca has no plans to restart the red-light camera program, a city spokesman said.
But Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said he’d like to see the cameras return, mainly to put South Florida’s most unruly drivers on notice.
Red-light cameras have long been a controversial issue in Florida. Critics argue that they have become a way for local governments and red-light camera companies to make money. Fans say the cameras make the roads safer and keep drivers from running red lights.
Cities that use the cameras rely on private companies to weed out footage that is unusable because of camera malfunctions, glare or other factors. What’s left is then sent to a police officer to determine whether the driver ran the light.
Separate state appeals courts have both approved this practice and found fault with it, leading to the Florida Supreme Court case.
But after conflicting rulings, some cities have been turning them back on.
Pembroke Pines did so over the summer. Boynton Beach swiftly followed, becoming the only city in Palm Beach County to operate red-light cameras. Sixteen cities in Miami-Dade and five cities in Broward, including Pembroke Pines, use them.
American Traffic Solutions, Inc.
Like many cities, Aventura contracted with American Traffic Solutions Inc. — a major player in the industry — to help operate its red-light camera system.
Luis Jimenez challenged a fine he received in Aventura in 2011. Jimenez didn’t deny running the red light. However, his lawyers argued that law enforcement — not camera vendors — should be enforcing traffic laws.
After Jimenez was ticketed, a Miami-Dade County judge overturned the citation in 2014, pointing to a decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal in a similar case in the city of Hollywood. But in 2016, the 3rd District Court of Appeal rejected the county judge’s decision and urged the Supreme Court to rule on the issue.
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