Florida Judge: Red Light Camera Ticket Violated State Law

Our traffic ticket defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know that Florida’s unpopular, so-called red light cameras are regarded both as a nuisance and an intrusion, and the programs allowing them have had their troubles in the court system.
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Despite court rulings that red light camera tickets had illegally ticketed drivers before the law allowed such ticketing, by last year more than 900 red light cameras had generated over $119 million in tickets.

But what if you knew the tickets are being issued by some out-of-state company? Wouldn’t that be a violation of Florida state law? We think so, and apparently, so does Judge Mark Klingensmith of Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals.

The judge’s ruling last week stemmed from a case in which an individual decided, rightfully, to fight a traffic ticket he had to pay to the City of Hollywood. The ticket was the product of a red light camera’s observation in Hollywood, but the ticket wasn’t actually issued to the individual by the City of Hollywood. Instead, the ticket was issued by a third-party red light camera traffic ticket company called American Traffic Solutions (ATS), based not in Florida, but all the way in Tempe, Arizona.

That’s right. The City of Hollywood outsourced its law enforcement obligations to a private company all the way across the country. If that seems a bit off, that’s because it is. After the case was initially filed, a Broward judge agreed with the individual who fought the ticket, and then when the case was appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeals, the judge confirmed the Broward court’s ruling, writing, “such outsourcing to a third-party for-profit vendor… to issue uniform traffic citations for red light camera violations is contrary to the plain wording of the Florida Statutes.”

This ruling has already had, and will continue to have, a profound effect on the widely used red light camera ticket programs that operate in many cities throughout the State of Florida. Those who have been ticketed by ATS might have recourse in attempting to recover the illegitimate ticket they’ve paid, and those who have more recently received red light camera tickets from ATS could theoretically avoid having to pay such tickets (though a decision not to pay a ticket is one that should always discussed with an attorney).

To be sure, this was one ruling and thus it alone will not become cited case law that will govern the entire state; that said, it certainly will impact the cities that contract with ATS to issue red light camera tickets. If traffic tickets are issued as a way to keep the city safer (and generate revenue to benefit the city’s population), why is an out-of-state, across-the-country, for-profit company handing out traffic tickets to Floridians?

If you’ve been issued a red light camera ticket by ATS or have questions about any other traffic ticket-related issue you might be dealing with, please contact our Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade County traffic ticket defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Liefert. For a free consultation, give us a call at 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to hearing from you..

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