SUPREME COURT RULING OF RED LIGHT CAMERAS

The Florida Supreme Court last week ruled that Hillsborough County and several other local governments put cameras in place before the Legislature approved them for statewide use. Now it is possible that communities that jumped the gun may have to return the money to those who were fined.

The Supreme Court opinion came in a  5-2 majority ruled that cities and counties had no authority under state law to create the camera programs before July 2010, the date the Legislature established for the programs to operate statewide.  Justice Charles Canady wrote that the local laws were invalid because they were not expressly provided for under a state statute intended to make traffic laws uniform across the state. http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/pub_info/summaries/briefs/12/12-644/Filed_06-12-2014_Opinion.pdf

Some of the concerns were, that there were no standard rules across the state.  For example,  some cities ticket drivers for failing to make a complete stop before turning right, and some do not. Another concern was that some cities are alleged to have reduced the times of yellow traffic lights to increase the number of citations. 

The cities that jumped the gun on red light camera revenues, while claiming to promote public safety may need to return the money, which likely could be in the millions of dollars.   Four jurisdictions in the Tampa Bay area are affected: Hillsborough County, Temple Terrace, Port Richey and Brooksville. Officials with those governments say they are reviewing the decision, but none has committed either way.

The Supreme court decision addressed only the legal issues, and not a remedy. However since  the court ruled that the ordinances were invalid, it is very possible that the fines from such an illegal operation may be invalid too.  While no cities are required to refund fines and it will likely take some lawsuits being filed to force any city to refund red light fines.

Some cities are now considering whether red light cameras actually promote traffic safety, or are simply a revenue generating program benefitting the red light camera companies, and city coffers.  

For more information or a free consultation on your legal issue contact The Law Offices of Charles D. Scott PLLC, your injury law and family law attorneys, at 727-300-4878. http://www.yourstpetelawyers.com

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