Often you are faced with a split-second decision when you approach an intersection as to whether it is safer to slow down or continue through an intersection upon the light first changing from green to yellow. You may also know that the length of time during that yellow light differs depending on the particular intersection you are driving through or even the city you are in. If your vehicle does not make it through that intersection prior to the light turning red, you are at risk for receiving a red-light camera citation.
Certainly you’ve heard the buzz over disputes related to the enforceability of red light cameras in Tampa Bay. The city of Tampa currently has 57 red-light cameras. According to auto accident lawyers from Denton & Zachary, PLLC, camera-issued fines are set at $158 for the offense, but can rise to $264 plus court costs should you contest violations in court. Further, Tampa has issued approximately 190,000 tickets since it started the red-light camera program and collected $11.1 million in fines, with $6.8 million of that amount going to the company who provides them, American Traffic Solutions, according to city records. Despite more than 12 cities getting rid of traffic light cameras in 2014, the system issued $148 million in tickets in Florida last year, according to data recently collected by the state’s Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) as part of its annual survey.
Are they enforceable?
The short answer is yes. Basically, if you receive a red-light camera ticket in Florida, you are required to pay the citation, but you do receive a 60-day period in which you can contest the charge.
There are currently a couple of lawsuits pending in Florida which claim using camera providers to review citation data and issue tickets violates a Florida law that says only law enforcement and traffic enforcement officers have legal authority to determine a violation and to issue a citation. The way it works in Tampa’s program is that potential violations are reviewed by American Traffic Solutions before being sent to the Tampa Police Department, where officers then review the video footage and any photographs taken by the cameras to determine whether a violation in fact did occur.
Should you fight the citation?
A red light camera ticket does not carry points, unlike other traffic violations. In essence red light camera tickets are like parking tickets. However, if you fight them and lose, that is when the penalties increase. According to a recent article in Florida Today, about two-thirds of the people who fought their red light camera tickets had their cases dismissed or they were found not guilty. In nearly all the other cases, the vehicle owners received an “adjudication withheld” decision, which means they paid a fine that was typically less than the initial fine, or they attended driving school.
Working with an experienced attorneys helping with civil litigation cases who can review your case and examine the video data captured by the red-light cameras is key. These types of cases are typically dismissed, because there is no police officer who can argue that a driver ran the red light. In court, a photo of the incident is not evidence that the person who received the violation was driving the car. In some cases, a police department will drop the case when it ends up in court.
If you have questions or if you would like to discuss a pending red-light camera ticket with an attorney, do not delay. Contact TJ Grimaldi at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. to learn what you can do and whether your citation is enforceable.