By: Mike Vasilinda
November 7, 2013
Red Light cameras are under fire tonight on two fronts. Efforts to ban them are gaining steam in the state legislature and a case at the Florida Supreme Court could result in refunds for thousands of motorists.
An average, 1770 people are caught running a red lights by a traffic camera every day in Florida. The 158 dollar fine generated about a hundred million dollars last year. Since the cameras were first allowed, lawmakers like State Senator Jeff Brandes have been trying to get rid of them. “We’re seeing cities reduce the timing of their yellow lights, change the standards on right on reds to increase tickets. So for the most part it was sold as a safety device, but some of these cities are using it to raise taxes,” says Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg.
The cameras were authorized in 2010. Prior to the 2010 law, at least two dozen cities and counties set up red light cameras without legislative approval.
Now motorists who got tickets in 2008, 9 and 10 have sued to get their money back.
The case has made it all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. More than one judge was skeptical that lawmakers intended cities to write tickets using cameras. “The local governments have the power to set up parallel traffic system,” says Fred Lewis, Supreme Court Justice.
The court didn’t rule yet but if it does decide in favor of drivers, refunds could be forthcoming. “I think it’s relevant for anyone who got a citation prior to the enactment of the Wandel Act in 2010, this certainly is going to affect if they get a refund or not,” says Jason Weissman, Motorists Attorney.
The court case and the repeal aren’t directly related, a ruling for motorists could go a long way toward convincing lawmakers to scrap all the cameras.
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