Florida Supreme Court to hear case about red light cameras

The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to consider a case to determine the legality of red light cameras.

The controversy surrounding red light cameras may soon be resolved after the Florida Supreme Court agreed to hear a case concerning their legality, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The decision to hear the case comes after conflicting decisions issued by a number of lower courts concerning whether or not issuing traffic citations using the cameras violated state law. Red light cameras have been extremely controversial ever since they were first introduced to Florida in 2010, with lawmakers recently attempting to outlaw them throughout the state.

Are red light cameras legal?

While many drivers certainly find red light cameras annoying, for legal experts the problem with the devices concerns whether or not they violate a state statute that prohibits law enforcement from being delegated to a third party. Critics of the third light cameras argue that because most cameras are owned and operated by private companies, that municipalities are illegally delegating law enforcement duties to those private companies.

Appellate judges in Aventura and Oldsmar ruled that the cameras are not illegal and can be used to ticket drivers. However, in Hollywood the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled against the cameras' legality and ordered the program to be shut down. The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Aventura case and if it issues a ruling it will set a precedent that will overrule conflicting appellate court decisions.

Safety or money?

Red light cameras aren't just controversial in the courts. As the Orlando Sun Sentinel reports, state lawmakers are also trying to do away with the cameras. The House recently passed a bill that would ban red light cameras. That bill now moves to the Senate, where support is less assured after a similar proposal was recently rejected in committee.

Critics of red light cameras argue that while such cameras are marketed as a public safety measure, in many cases they are placed at high-traffic intersections as a revenue-generating program for local jurisdictions. In one case, for example, a red light camera was installed outside of an emergency room entrance at a Tamarac hospital where many drivers were ticketed after running the red light in emergency situations.

Traffic law defense

While many drivers treat getting a ticket as nothing more than an annoyance, it is important to keep in mind that such tickets can have serious consequences. They can lead to penalty points which ultimately could lead to higher insurance premiums and even a license suspension. Before paying the fine for a ticket, drivers should contact a defense attorney for help. An experienced attorney may be able to assist drivers with fighting a ticket and helping them avoid the penalties that paying a fine could lead to.