MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Changes are coming to the laws regulating red light cameras across Florida. They will impact the way you fight a red light camera ticket and when you can be busted for making an illegal right turn on red.
Whether you think red light cameras make our streets safer, or are just a money grab by cities and counties across the state, it appears they are here to stay. An estimated 400 of Florida’s intersections have them.
State lawmakers, though, have made some changes to the Mark Wandell Traffic Safety Act, after seeing the positives and pitfalls of the relatively new program.
For starters, the way you can fight a red light ticket will change. Right now, after 30 days if you don’t pay the fine, it becomes a traffic citation. The only way to appeal the ticket is to take your case to the judge in traffic court.
Many do that but if they lose they shell out $158 for the ticket and more than $100 in court costs.
Under the new law, you will have 60 days to decide whether or not to pay the ticket, prove another driver was behind the wheel, or ask for a hearing in front of a city or county employee, designated as the hearing officer. It turns this traffic issue into a local issue, more like fighting a code violation. And if you lose, you pay just 50 bucks on top of the ticket.
If you want to take the fight further after that, you can appeal to a circuit court judge, but be ready to shell out even more cash if he or she rules against you.
And under the new law, if you just ignore the ticket after 60 days you will get a citation. You can still take it to the judge, like you do now, but if you don’t take any action, the County can suspend your license.
And how about those rolling right turns…that’s where many folks get nailed by the cameras.
The new law allows you to stop anywhere in the intersection, before, on, or after the white line- but here’s the rub; You have to stop fully.
Right now if you check out traffic court you’ll see a lot of dismissals for rolling rights, but even the judges are warning of the impending changes.
Charlie Territo, with American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona-based company that runs the cameras, insists the changes are worthwhile, and that the program as a whole benefits South Florida.
“Nine out of 10 vehicles that have received a red light running violation haven’t received a second. There’s no question that driver behavior changes. While individuals might not like getting a ticket, it makes them more aware.”
The camera programs also reap in thousands of dollars for participating cities and counties, as well as their hospitals.
“The way the money from the fines is allocated is that half goes to the municipality that runs the program, but the other half goes to state trauma centers,” says Territo.
Some drivers CBS4’s Natalia Zea spoke with believe the cameras reduce traffic accidents. But others call it a money grab.
No matter your feelings about the program, your best bet is to stop when that light turns red. Because let’s face it- you are being watched.
To read the entire new state law, click here: http://laws.flrules.org/2013/160
Flow Chart Of New Ticket Appeals Process: Source: American Traffic Solutions