Articles Posted in Traffic Tickets

Our Palm Beach and Broward County traffic ticket defense lawyers represent individuals cited for a wide range of traffic violations. In representing our clients, we know how important it is to analyze with intense scrutiny the citations issued to the individuals.
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As one woman recently learned, in a case that is sure to make your elementary school grammar teacher smile, a traffic citation/ticket can be tossed out if it contains a grammatical mistake which obscures or changes the meaning of the rule allegedly being broken.
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Traffic tickets can be a true nuisance and a real burden, raising the possibilities of fines and fees, driver’s license suspensions, dreaded points, increased insurance rates, etc.
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And, as our Palm Beach and Broward County traffic ticket defense lawyers know, you can be issued a traffic ticket and/or citation for any number of a wide range of driving offenses; tickets are not restricted solely to common offenses such as speeding and running red lights.

The penalties for various traffic offenses range from problematic to outright burdensome, and, as our traffic ticket lawyers know, simply deciding to pay the fine and accept the associated penalties is typically not the most strategic approach.
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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.
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Texting and driving gets a lot of attention around the country, particularly as a cause of far too many auto accidents and related injuries.
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In Florida, it is a violation of s. 316.305 of the Florida State Statutes to text while driving, although, as our Palm Beach and Broward County traffic ticket defense lawyers know, there are some exceptions to this rule.

Knowing that there are exceptions to the rule does not mean that texting and driving is safe; doing is makes you 23 times more likely to crash your car than you would otherwise be. Still, knowing the specifics of the relevant law can make you more able to assert your rights should you ever have to.
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A man is suing the city of Fort Lauderdale and three police officers in a federal case after alleging he was improperly stopped in traffic, forced out of his vehicle at gunpoint, subjected to an illegal vehicle search and arrested for possession of a concealed weapon – despite having a permit.
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Although we rarely hear of cases resulting in civil litigation, our Fort Lauderdale criminal traffic defense lawyers know that officer mistakes during traffic stops are commonplace.

A person who is stopped in traffic, searched and arrested has more civil rights than he or she might realize. Even in cases where the defendant may have been involved in some wrongdoing, it might not matter in the end of it can be proven that the officer didn’t act according to the law, internal police policy or was somehow found to be untrustworthy.

There are a lot of opportunities for an officer to fail to perform as he or she should, and each defendant should seek a defense firm willing to explore the case from all angles.

In this situation, the 40-year-old defendant has said that he suspects he drew the suspicion of police by driving through a bad neighborhood in an expensive vehicle. Certainly, such a thing might draw attention, but it’s not illegal and it’s certainly not enough of a reason to stop someone and arrest them.

The police report indicates that the stop was initiated on Northwest Ninth Avenue. One officer said he watched as the defendant rolled through two stop signs without coming to a complete stop. Then, the officer said that with his high beams on the vehicle, he was able to observe the defendant reaching into his waistband, pulling out a firearm and putting it inside the vehicle glove box.

However, the defendant alleges that his windows were heavily tinted, which would have made it impossible for the officer to see inside the vehicle, with or without high beams. He maintains he knew he was being followed by law enforcement, but he was quite surprised to be pulled over because he hadn’t believed himself to have done anything wrong.

After pulling over immediately, the defendant was ordered out of his vehicle at gunpoint. Officers said they searched his vehicle for weapons as a precaution for their own safety. They discovered a 9 mm handgun in the glove box. The firearm, officers said, was “able and ready” for discharge.

The defendant produced for officers a concealed carry permit. But despite having this evidence right in front of them, the officers instead relied on a records check that, for some reason, indicated that he was denied a permit at some earlier point.

They arrested him anyway on a single charge of possession of a concealed weapon. He wasn’t charged for running a stop sign. There were no other alleged illegal actions.

Still, he was held in custody for nearly 10 hours before he was finally released on bond. He had to spend even more money to fight the charges, though eventually, the state attorney’s office declined to move forward with the case after verifying that the defendant did indeed have legal permission to have that loaded gun in his vehicle.

The defendant subsequently filed a complaint with the internal affairs office of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. The investigating sergeant noted that because they were not any other violations, the defendant was “charged with a crime he did not commit.”

Even so, the internal investigation let the officer’s off scot-free, saying the mistake was “minor,” but the detectives had acted in good faith. Still, a final outcome of the internal affairs report has been on hold, pending the outcome of the civil case.

The defendant contends that the detectives falsified the official version of events in order to conceal the fact that they had violated his civil rights – namely, his Fourth Amendment rights to be free from excessive force and unreasonable search and seizure.
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Given that tourism is the economic heartbeat of Florida, it’s no surprise that state legislators want to ensure that everyone feels welcome, especially those who travel long distances.
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Our West Palm Beach traffic ticket lawyers are sure that has a lot to do with how quickly House Bill 7059 is making its way through the state House of Representatives.

The law is actually an effort to repeal an earlier measure that went into effect the beginning of this year that requires Canadian tourists to pay a $25 fee in order to obtain an international driving permit in order to be road-worthy on Florida thoroughfares.

The law has not only caused a huge back-up at automobile associations in Canada, it has raised serious concerns about whether these individuals will be targeted by law enforcement looking for cars outfitted with Canadian tags.

The measure caused a number of snowbirds from Canada, many of whom spend months on end here in the Sunshine State, to simply stay home. Many were worried that if they didn’t have a permit, they would be breaking the law.

In fact, some 3 million Canadians visited the state last year. That was a 4 percent increase from the year before, and it’s estimated these visitors bring about $4.5 billion to the state annually.

The law, an amendment to Florida Statute 332.04, was passed after law enforcement officials complained about difficulty in having to decipher international driver’s licenses that were often in a language other than English. The law would require all international visitors to the country to get a permit from their own country before they can drive here in Florida.

There were reports in Canada of three-hour-long waits – or more – for one of the permits.

However, the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles announced in February that the law wasn’t enforceable, saying it was likely to violate the standards created by the Geneva Convention of 1949.

According to those rules, non-resident visitors to Florida who want to drive need only have in their immediate possession a valid driver’s license issued in his or her name from either another state or U.S. territory or from their country of residence.

Still, given the sheer number of international tourists our state hosts every year, even the repeal of this measure isn’t going to be the end citations and arrests of foreign nationals visiting Florida.

If you are a foreigner arrested in the U.S., under the Fifth and Fourteenth Constitutional Amendments, you are afforded the same rights of due process as citizens accused of a crime. That includes traffic offenses, and it includes your right to consult with an attorney before speaking to police about anything other than your name, age, and basic information.

Many of our northern neighbors have expressed relief at the repeal of this law, saying that it will ensure they continue to be treated equally in the state of Florida. If nothing else, some said, it was a serious annoyance.

If you are stopped and hassled over your lack of an international driving permit, we are here to help.
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Florida legislators haven’t exactly axed the red light camera program operating in communities across the state, but it appears they are looking to significantly sideline it.
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Our West Palm Beach traffic ticket defense attorneys understand that a state House committee has given an approval stamp to a bill that would tighten the reins on how counties and cities use the devices at major intersections.

House Bill 1061 seeks to disallow the use of the cameras to cite drivers for running red lights. It would also set a minimum amount of time for yellow lights to be displayed and could give some drivers more tools to fight back against any citations they do receive.

Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, was the sponsor of the bill and said that due process rights were the paramount concern in drafting the measure. He stressed the measure wasn’t a ban on the use of devices, but it will serve to regulate them at minimum levels.

The bill received the 12-4 approval of the House of Economic Affairs Committee.

Unsurprisingly, police chief unions and the Florida League of Cities have expressed stern opposition to the measure. That makes sense considering the benefits these entities reap from having the cameras up. For law enforcement, there isn’t as much pressure on them to patrol the streets and stop red light runners and speeders. For municipalities, it’s a cash cow.

Some insisted that it was a local decision and should remain that way. However, the issue of whether to install red light cameras rarely goes to a public vote. It’s decided by city councils and county commissions – whose coffers are all significantly lined with the proceeds of these cameras.

The next step for HB 1061 is the House Appropriations Committee. A similar measure, SB 1342, has been filed by a Democratic state senator from Royal Palm Beach, though that one has yet to be heard in committee.

The fact that these measures have bipartisan support – with one sponsored by a Republican, the other by a Democrat, is promising for the future of putting the brakes on red light cameras.

At the heart of the issue is one of due process and discretion. Plus, the photographic images that are submitted don’t adequately identify the actual person behind the wheel. So the ticket ends up going to the owner of the vehicle, no matter if they were actually driving.

HB 1061, by requiring a minimum amount of yellow-light displays, would lead to a decrease in the overall number of red light tickets.

The bill would also require a number of changes to the appeals process that is used for such citations. Among those, municipalities would be responsible for authenticating the evidence presented in the images. It also underscores the fact that the burden of proof is on the government – not the driver – to prove guilt. The driver also can’t be called to be a witness against himself and each person must be afforded the right to confront any witnesses against him.
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A report by the Sun-Sentinel indicates that fewer West Palm Beach traffic tickets are being issued to motorists – and the trend is being seen throughout the state.traffic.jpg

Still, our West Palm Beach traffic ticket defense lawyers know that doesn’t mean those who are cited are less likely to win in court if they chose to fight it.

The truth is, courts – as well as law enforcement agencies – are working with fewer resources than ever before. That means you may even have a better chance of winning – if you have a defense lawyer.

Officials in Florida can’t pinpoint one specific factor that has led to the decline in tickets, though they indicate it may have a great deal to do with the economy. As mentioned before, police are working with fewer resources. That may mean that more of their efforts are focused toward critical crime-fighting assignments.

Other possible reasons may be the fact that there have been a number of sky-high spikes in gas prices, which means there are overall fewer drivers on the road.

And lastly, it could be that there are tougher fines than ever before for traffic violators who are caught in West Palm Beach and Broward counties. Drivers are generally being more careful.

The newspaper reports that in Palm Beach County, police issued nearly 432,000 traffic tickets in 2008. In 2010, they issued about 398,000 – a drop of nearly 8 percent. Then last year, about 370,000 tickets were handed out – another 7 percent decrease from the year before, and about a 15 percent dip from four years earlier.

In Broward County last year, the numbers were up slightly last year – but only after dramatic drops ever year prior to that since 2007. The report indicates that troopers and sheriff’s deputies there handed out about 482,000 tickets in 2011 – which was up about 1.5 percent from the previous year, when there were about 475,000 tickets – but still down about 15 percent from 2007, when there were roughly 565,000 tickets issued.

We’re seeing the same sort of trend across Florida. Five years ago, there were about 5.2 million traffic tickets issued to Florida motorists. Compare that to 2011, when there were about 4.3 million.

Unsurprisingly, traffic crashes are also down. Less money in people’s pockets means they’re less likely to be on the road on outings to shop, eat out or enjoy other entertainment.

But perhaps another reason why the citations are fewer is because officers know that more people are fighting them in court.

This was the theory posed by our own Traffic Defense Attorney Doug Leifert, who was quoted in the article as saying that the increases in the amount of traffic fines mean that people are less willing to simply pay it regardless of whether they were in the right, as they might have been inclined to do before the recession.

“They’re steep and they’re due in 30 days,” Leifert was quoted as saying. “…It may be the total number of citations is down, but the number of people going to court is up. More people are willing to go to court because of the cost.”

Points on your driver’s license can also lead to license suspension and skyrocketing insurance premiums — two more reasons to defend yourself when facing traffic charges in South Florida.
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Our Palm Beach County traffic ticket defense attorneys know that red light cameras have raised concerns regarding fairness and legality. trafficlight.jpg

For those who have ever required a Palm Beach County traffic ticket defense, you’re probably aware that these little devices snap photos of vehicles who reportedly run red lights. At one point last year, there were so many legal problems with the devices – problems that were costing taxpayers more in legal fees than they were bringing in with citations – that lawmakers had even for a time debated taking them down.

Those discussions have been shelved for now, but one issue that has recently cropped up is a double standard between cops and the rest of us. According to an investigation by Policing cops: Red-light cameras catch officers running lights, By Susannah Bryan and Sally Kestin, Sun Sentinel

A Broward County judge recently ruled that police aren’t allowed to issue citations for running a red light because they carry a steeper penalty than citations issued by getting caught by a camera, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

This is welcome news for those who have been the victim of the unbalanced and unfair practices in Fort Lauderdale regarding red-light camera tickets. Fort Lauderdale Traffic Defense Lawyers have done a substantial amount of work fighting for the rights of drivers accused of violations through “Big Borther” methods such as traffic cameras. Fighting Broward County traffic tickets is important because not only can they cost a driver in fines and fees, but also can tack on points to a person’s driver’s license, which could lead to a suspension.
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As we reported earlier this year on our Florida Criminal Lawyer Blog, we have succeeded in getting many of these camera tickets dismissed.

The Broward County judge ruled that because red-light camera tickets cost $158, while officer-issued tickets cost $260 and impose points on a person’s driver’s license, the practice violates the equal protection provisions of the United States Constitution and Florida Constitution. This ruling will likely set precedent for judges dealing with other citations throughout Broward County.

The Attorney General’s Office will appeal the ruling. But while the state argues equal protection doesn’t apply in this situation, it’s possible either red light camera tickets or tickets written by officers will go by the wayside if the Florida Supreme Court eventually gets involved. It’s equally possible that the penalties for red-light violators caught on camera will increase to those that accompany a ticket issued by an officer.

In Florida, red light violations are governed by specific details regarding whether a light is “run” or not. Sometimes, this can be defended simply by the officer mistakenly believing the light was red or not correctly judging where in the intersection the vehicle was when the light turned red.

Governments in recent years have turned to red-light cameras as a wave of the future approach to fighting traffic violations. In many cities throughout Florida, the cameras simply show traffic in real-time, while others record road intersections. Some are designed to cite traffic violators. As the government becomes more intrusive, it is more and more important to make sure you are well represented.

Don’t just pay a fine if you get a ticket. Consult with an experienced law firm that can help you decide whether the ticket is worth fighting. Adding points to your driver’s license can hike up your insurance rates as well as lead to a license suspension. Plus, the tickets are very costly. Speak first with Fort Lauderdale Traffic Defense Lawyers before doing anything.
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