In a victory for local governments and red-light camera companies, the state Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a motorist’s challenge to the way a South Florida city has handled potential red-light traffic violations.
The case centered on the city of Aventura, but it involved questions that have popped up in other areas of the state where motorists can be nabbed on camera for running red lights. Motorist Luis Torres Jimenez, who was ticketed in Aventura, argued that the city had given too much authority to a red-light camera company in reviewing potential violations.
But justices, upholding a decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal, said Aventura could use a private contractor to review images — so long as a city officer makes the ultimate decision about whether motorists are ticketed.
“The Legislature has expressly authorized local governments to allow traffic enforcement officers to issue citations for traffic infractions captured by red light cameras,” said a main opinion, written by Justice Barbara Pariente and joined by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Justice Peggy Quince. “As part of this express authorization, the Legislature has permitted a local government’s agent to review information from red light cameras for any purpose short of making the probable cause determination as to whether a traffic infraction was committed. We thus hold that (a section of state law) authorizes a local government to contract with a private third-party vendor to review and sort information from red light cameras, in accordance with written guidelines provided by the local government, before sending that information to a trained traffic enforcement officer, who determines whether probable cause exists and a citation should be issued.”
Justice Charles Canady, in a concurring opinion joined by justices Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson, came to a similar conclusion.
“The statute in no way precludes a local government from contracting with a third-party vendor to provide assistance in screening images from red light cameras in any way the local government sees fit other than authorizing the vendor to issue citations,” Canady wrote. “On this point, the critical issue is not the details of the relationship between the local government and the vendor. Rather, the dispositive point is that the local government conforms to the requirement that only law enforcement officers and traffic infraction enforcement officers — rather than employees of a vendor — may issue traffic citations.”
Justice R. Fred Lewis agreed with the result but did not sign on to the opinions.
Red-light cameras have long been a controversial issue in Florida, with critics arguing that they have become a way for local governments and red-light camera companies to make money. Supporters, however, contend the cameras improve traffic safety and dissuade motorists from running red lights.
Aventura contracted with American Traffic Solutions, Inc. — a major player in the industry — to help in operating its red-light camera system.
After Jimenez was ticketed, a Miami-Dade County judge in 2014 overturned the citation, pointing to a decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal in a similar case in the Broward County city of Hollywood. But the 3rd District Court of Appeal in 2016 rejected the county judge’s decision and urged the Supreme Court to wade into the issue.
Thursday’s ruling backed the 3rd District Court of Appeal — and another decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in an Oldsmar case — while disapproving the conclusion in the Hollywood case.
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida
Supreme Court Decision Upholding Red-Light Camera Enforcement Method
It is a proven FACT that red light cameras have caused more rear end collisions when motorists slam on the brakes to avoid getting a ticket. The ONLY use for red light cameras has been to create more revenue for the district, pure and simple.
Good! Now bring back cameras to enforce traffic laws. Cameras are better than Sheriff’s deputies at intersections. The camera is less expensive, never gets distracted and is available for review is disputed tickets.
If we can vote to monitor our kid’s social media as a safety measure, we can vote to monitor our intersections.
I sure would like to see the traffic cameras back. I’ve noticed a lot of drivers taking chances now that the cameras are gone and as the population has grown, even more dangerous.
Chris A Pickett says
The problem is NOT the camera’s the problem IS shortening the yellow light cycle to generate more infractions which i turn generates more money for the OUT of STATE company, who by the way, gets the Lion’s share of the infraction fine. Seems shady to me.
Mm patient says
I guess florida has no respect for the constitution. I love my rights and I want them all. However i am a American, a rarity I guess now adays in america!http://www.independentsentinel.com/court-finds-red-light-cameras-unconstitutional-must-refund-tickets/
@Richard – if a person has to “Slam” on his breaks to avoid getting a ticket they are at fault and not paying attention and neither is the person behind them. If you are paying attention going through a yellow will not get you a ticket. Unless as @Chris A Picket said the yellow light cycle is not realistic. Yellow cycle time and people not wanting to sit and wait at a red light and pushing the “edge” are the issue. With the latter being the biggest cause of running a red light or causing an accident. Bring back the cameras, set realistic yellow cycle times and ticket those who run them. Regardless of the cycle time set, people are still going to be impatient and race on through.
Yellow light is no excuse. If a person is behind a car that is approaching a yellow light that has been on a bit, the driver behind him should be prepared to stop cause he or she knows it’s going to turn red. If it’s still yellow when the driver gets there even if you keep going through the yellow light and then if it turns red in the middle, the driver is ok. If someone can’t figure that out, stay off the road or get the eyeballs where they belong LOOKING at what’s going on in front of you!!! Rear end collisions are the result of inattention whether there are cameras or not, with the exception of a driver in front of you that suddenly stops short.
And if a driver stops suddenly at a yellow light, he needs to google HOW TO DRIVE and read it.
The ruling still doesn’t change the fact that the cameras can’t identify the driver. In some households multiple people could be the driver of a particular vehicle. So the person’s who’s name the vehicle is registered to gets a citation even though they may not have even been driving or in the vehicle? They should be banned until they can provide a higher burden of proof that the red light runner is in fact getting the citation. if law enforcement pulls you over for running a red light it’s issued to the driver…..not the owner of the vehicle.
If another person is driving your car and running red lights, then maybe the vehicle owner should not allow that person to drive it anymore, at least until he or she pays the fine and then not let that person use the car for a few weeks. Perhaps that would teach the person to obey the rules. If an owner of car continues to let a violator drive it , that is enabling. So the owner and the other driver needs to be held accountable and do something about it so that it doesn’t keep happening.
If a person allows another to use his weapon and he keeps doing wrong things with it, maybe killing or hurting someone and the owner of the weapon continues to let the wrong doer use it again, then the weapon owner is just as responsible as the user for the violation or injury to some one else.
There is a saying that guns don’t kill—- people using them do. Let’s add vehicles don’t kill—- people driving them do.
@snapperhead.. the owner of the vehicle should be held responsible for those they allow drive it.
Red light cameras are just another way to tax people, and Flagler County loves to tax people.
Don’t vote for any politician who favors red light cameras.
Chris A Pickett says
For the record the “yellow” light is SIGNIFICANT. The yellow light means prepare to stop IF it is SAFE,if not proceed through the intersection. And when the cycle is SHORTENED to generate MORE infractions, that is a problem, in turn causing people to slam on the brakes when they see a red light. Perhaps tulips shouldn’t drive, until they read how to drive.