[Infographic] The Top 10 Controversies of Red Light Cameras in Florida
Red light cameras are some of the most recent technology being deployed to capture those who choose to break road rules, but they have also raised a lot of controversy regarding issues like their cost and privacy. Read on to learn more about red light cameras in Florida, the questions raised by their use, and what you should do if you have been accused.
Red Light vs. Officer
A Florida red light camera ticket is not the same as being given a traffic ticket by an officer. The primary difference is that you will not know you have gotten a red light camera ticket until you get the notice in the mail. This could come in the form of a Uniform Traffic Citation, a Notice of Violation, or a Notice of License Suspension.
What’s the $158 Notice of Violation?
Within thirty days after the alleged red light violation, you’ll get a Notice of Violation in the mail. From here, you have two options:
Pay the ticket:You will not incur license points or see your insurance premiums spike since a red light violation is not a traffic ticket.
Contest the ticket: If you decide to contest, then you will receive the Uniform Traffic Citation. (If the alleged violation happened in Palm Beach, Broward, or Miami-Dade County, you should strongly consider contesting the ticket as red light camera violations are illegal in these locations). In Broward County alone, more than 24,000 tickets were tossed earlier this year.
On the ticket, you’ll also notice some identifying information about your case, including a video and two photos. You should always request to see this information if you have received a Notice of Violation. You have 60 days to do this. If you elect to pay the ticket, aside from your money disappearing, it’s like the whole incident never happened.
What’s the Red Light Camera Ticket?
If you ignore the Notice of Violation above or elected to contest the ticket, then you’ll receive a Florida Uniform Traffic Citation Ticket to pay within 60 days. This amount can double if you don’t pay within the deadline, and your account is turned over to collections.
The receipt of this second document triggers another 30 day period to contestant it. At this point, if you pay the fine, you will have a conviction on your driving record. This is a point of no return, because you cannot go back to pay the initial Notice of Violation.
If this has happened to you, it’s wise to retain a Florida traffic ticket attorney to help explore the circumstances of the ticket. Your attorney will most likely request a court date and fight for the dismissal of the ticket.
Defenses for a Red Light Camera Ticket
There are three primary defenses for a red light camera ticket. One of them may be applicable to your case:
The yellow light wasn’t long enough: Some municipalities were caught shortening the length of their yellow lights in order to increase the chances of giving someone a ticket for running a red light.This is, of course, not guaranteed, but something you may want to explore with your Florida defense attorney as an option. Consider comparing the length of other yellow lights to ensure this is an issue in your case. In California, a ticket was thrown out for this reason, so it might be worth investigating!
You were not the person driving the car. The photograph should help to demonstrate that another individual was driving the car at the time of the ticket.
The technology capturing the alleged violation is malfunctioning or unreliable. As this can be complex to prove, you may want to engage a defense attorney to help you make this argument.
Arguments Against Red Light Cameras
As mentioned in the introduction to this article, this technology has earned quite a bit of criticism. In fact, in September 2015, North Miami officials announced plans to remove all red light cameras, and this is just the latest local area to nix their program. Boynton Beach officials threw out a batch of red light camera tickets earlier this year, too.
Some of the most common claims about red light cameras includes all of the following concerns:
1. Privacy Invasion
Cameras are an invasion of privacy: With the majority of these systems across the country, a video feed is running around the clock. This means that all drivers, not just those running red lights, are being captured on video.
Without a clear audit trail of what’s happening to the data captured from the video, many people believe this is an obvious violation of privacy.
2. Lack of Witnesses
There are no witnesses to the violation: There’s no guarantee of delivery for a red light camera ticket, and it’s unlike a traffic ticket received from a police officer where you have had the opportunity to interact with the entity accusing you.
3. Ticket Recipients Are Not Quickly Notified of the Offense
A red light camera citation will arrive weeks after the alleged incident, making it difficult for the accused person to even remember the circumstances of that day.
Another concern is that someone could accumulate multiple tickets within a short period and not have any warning about the mounting fees.
4. Traffic Light Synchronization is Discouraged
Many municipalities use a program known as traffic light synchronization to help decrease pollution and congestion. Unneeded lights or lights near low-traffic areas might be partially deactivated during certain times, but the presence of a 24/7 red light camera causes issues with this.
5. Red Light Cameras Do Nothing to Stop other Reckless Driving Behavior
Even if a camera accurately catches someone who runs the light, it does little to discourage a motorist going through a green light at reckless speed. If a police officer is not present to witness either scenario, only the red light runner gets penalized.
6. No Guarantee of Delivery
There’s no guarantee that the offender received the violation. Since first class USPS mail is used to send the tickets to the alleged offender, there is no verified way to prove that the accused ever received it.
The fact that an unpaid violation could be sent to collections or lead to an arrest warrant without verified delivery troubles many opponents of red light cameras.
7. Proper Installation Does Not Guarantee Proper Operation
Even if the camera was installed properly, this is not a guarantee that the camera was still operating properly at the time it captured an alleged violation.
8. Cameras Do Nothing to Prevent Accidents and May Even Cause Them
20 various red light camera studies show that the presence of a camera might actually increase accidents by up to 27 percent. In Chicago, red light cameras were connected to more incidents of rear-end accidents.
Even at their most innocuous, a red light camera does nothing to stop a red light violation that turns into a car accident aside from serving as a possible deterrent. The very fact that tickets continue to be issued from red light cameras indicates that it’s unlikely their existence is a strong deterrent.
9. Cameras Might Be Used to Boost Revenue Rather Than Drive Improved Safety
Some opponents of red light cameras believe their installation is largely to help boost revenue for a municipality rather than to improve safety.
There’s also some evidence that cities have to spend too much money to install and operate these cameras so that taxpayer money is funding this project: In Missouri, the cost of operating the red light camera system led to a loss of more than $460,000 between 2007 and 2010.
10. The Existence of the Cameras Seems to Violate Current State Law
The fact that current state law only empowers a law enforcement officer to issue a ticket was the grounds for the dismissal of the more than $6.3 million in violations in Florida earlier this year.
Meet with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
One can clearly see that there is a lot of controversy surrounding the costs and consequences of red light cameras—not to mention a great deal of research that goes into defending a red light camera case. For help in contesting your red light ticket, contact an attorney as soon as possible.