By: Ticketlawyer of Miami, Albert Quirantes
70 red light programs are at risk in counties and cities throughout Florida after a ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal (DCA) which questioned whether the cameras were legal. This includes Hillsborough County and Tampa.
This all began in Hollywood following a red-light camera appeal and the settling of another one out of court. Gulfport Florida has now decided to give drivers who are caught running a red light a bit of a break but only if they attend court to settle the matter through the correct legal process. These hearings are becoming typically quite expensive.
It has been claimed that Gulfport’s red light camera scheme is illegal as the tickets are being issued based at first on what the red light camera companies have viewed on their red light cameras and not by official law enforcers. This method is in use in many other cities in Florida to enforce red light ticket camera violations.
Gulfport city officials have told the hearing officer who deals with red light camera ticket hearings in the city to place on hold cases where drivers are putting up a legal defense and challenging the status of the city’s traffic ticket operation. However, anyone who receives a red light violation ticket and does not challenge it will be required to pay up the $158 citation. If thirty days go by and nothing is done, the citation goes up as high as $277.00.
Andrew Salzman, the City’s attorney, said that for now, drivers who are questioning the legality of their red light ticket are not going to be let off the offence but their cases are going to be delayed until a case brought up in the city of Oldsmar has been resolved by the Second District Court of Appeal.
Under most red light violation programs in Florida, photos and video footage are reviewed to begin with by out of state camera company workers instead of cops, with likely violations passed on to sworn law enforcement officers who are responsible for confirming if the driver should receive a citation. Using the camera firm’s software, a citation with the number of the officer’s badge included is printed and sent by mail by the company to the offender. This practice has already been rejected by Florida’s fourth district court of appeals, where in 2014, Appellate judges said that this is a violation of state law. This ruling led to the dismissal of tens of thousands of cases and to cities in Broward and Palm Beach counties to put on hold their red light camera programs.
Jeremy Baillie, a Gulfport resident, was ticketed after he ran a red light while driving his 2002 GMC Envoy at 49Th Street and 22nd Avenue South 12 months ago. He took an interest in the Appellate judges’ recent decision and as he was in the process of undertaking study in order to pass the Florida Bar. So, he hired a Florida red light violation attorney and used the case to help in defending him in an appeal that was filed in the circuit court. He won and Gulfport reached a settlement of $2,631 out of court which included court and attorney’s fees. Baillie felt he was guilty but he also knew that Gulfport would not be able to defend its use of the current red light violation ticket system. In Florida, by law you are innocent until “proven guilty”.
Gulfport city lawyers were also struggling when paralegal Deborah Blake, aged 61 years, who represented herself, got the a guilty determination by a hearing officer overturned in the circuit court after citing the 4th DCA case in Hollywood, Florida.
City attorney Salzman believes Gulfport’s red light camera program is quite legal but that Gulfport City decided not to pursue the latter cases as the Oldsmar’s appeal is further down the track and it is expected that any ruling in that case will establish a legal precedent that will cover counties in the 2nd DCA, including Pinellas and Hillsborough.
Gulfport has just 3 cameras in place, which captured nearly 16,000 red light running events in its 1st four years with fines valued at $1.7 million. $794,000 is given to the state while $708,000 goes to the camera business which leaves Gulfport city with $262,000.
If the court makes a ruling which favors Oldsmar, then Gulfport will immediately pursue payments for pending citations. If the court follows the 4th DCA ruling, those pending citations would have to be dismissed. Tammy Trinh, a Clearwater resident, was issued a red light violation by the city of Oldsmar when she turned right while out driving in the Tampa area and this is the case yet to be heard.
There are also class actions evolving, covering upwards of 70 communities throughout Florida, which includes Gulfport and Tampa. These cases are for drivers who want refunds for their red light tickets and are worth at least $100 million.
Other issues resulting from these cases have to do with the red light program and its likely continuance statewide. The law being challenged is Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, which was named after a Bradenton man who was in 2003 killed by a red-light runner. This statute sanctioned traffic cams as a way of enforcing the law.
All the counties and cities throughout the State of Florida will be holding their breath until a decision is made for Tammy Trinh and red light traffic ticket attorneys will be keeping a watchful eye too.
Nobody likes to get tickets on their driving record and nobody likes to get their license suspended. Thus, if you want to protect yourself and your driving record, then hire my Ticket Law Center team. We’ll go to court for you.
If you have any questions about this or any other Traffic Ticket, DUI or Criminal accusation, call Miami TicketLawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage at www.TicketLawyer.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions.