Red Light Cameras Losing Popularity in South Florida as Broward Encounters Problems

February 23, 2011 by David S. Seltzer

On this blog, I wrote a few weeks ago about the problems Palm Beach County has had collecting on its red light camera tickets. Courts in that county have ruled that the photos and video generated by their system are not sufficient to show that a crime was actually committed. As a result, a majority of tickets have been dismissed in court, and south Florida traffic ticket defense attorneys say the system may not be sustainable. Now, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Feb. 19, Broward County officials are reporting similar problems. The cost of defending the tickets in court, and the dismissal of some tickets, has eaten into the revenue municipalities were expecting, and some representatives in the state Legislature have proposed ending authorization for any red light camera programs at all.

Red light cameras were sold to municipalities and voters as a revenue generator, as well as a way to stop the dangerous practice of running red lights. But according to the article, some cities are actually spending more money defending red light camera tickets than they are taking in in fines. The costs come in part from the time of city attorneys and law enforcement officers who must appear in court. Tickets are also being dismissed in court because the evidence automatically generated by the cameras is considered unreliable, and therefore not admissible, by some judges. Tickets for turning right on red without stopping, for example, are reportedly very difficult to prove. Courts have also asked for evidence showing that the car hadn’t already entered the intersection before the light turned red. As a result, at least three municipalities are waiting on installing their own camera systems, although others are going forward with theirs.

As a Miami red light camera lawyer, I’m pleased to see that cities are rethinking whether red light cameras are a good idea. This article only scratches the surface of the evidence problems the cameras can create. Without the human judgment of a human law enforcement officer, cameras miss a lot. For example, a still photo can’t reliably capture whether the vehicle entered the intersection before the light turned red; a video might, if the camera were pointed in the right direction. In addition, as I wrote last month, safety studies have found that red light cameras can actually increase the number of rear-end accidents, by giving drivers an incentive to stop short for yellow lights. An experienced Fort Lauderdale traffic tickets attorney like me may be able to find other problems with the evidence — and without evidence, the city has no case. If the revenue doesn’t add up and neither do the safety claims, the state should consider whether red light cameras are really in the public’s best interests.

If you’re fighting a traffic ticket — or a lot of traffic tickets — you should know that the state of Florida can suspend your driver’s license for failure to pay. Don’t just ignore it — call Seltzer Law, P.A. to get help fighting unfair tickets. To set up a free, confidential consultation, send us an email or call us today at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).