Florida: Lawsuits Challenge Red Light Camera Legality

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

A number of Florida cities that rushed to install red light cameras without legislative authorization now face legal challenge. Florida attorney Jack L. Townsend, Sr joined with the firm Edwards and Ragatz on July 30 in filing a class action lawsuit against the city of Temple Terrace for allowing American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to operate a traffic camera program designed to generate $3 million in annual revenue primarily from vehicles turning right on red lights. Because the state legislature has consistently declined to allow automated ticketing, the legal status of such systems has even been questioned by the leading photo enforcement vendor. “Legal opinions indicate that automated enforcement in the state of Florida remains illegal,” Redflex Traffic Systems explained in an Australian Securities Exchange filing ( view statement, page 6, 1.8mb PDF). “Some competitors have proceeded at risk with early programs.”

Townsend’s primary argument against Temple Terrace is that state law already covers the infraction of red light running and Section 316.007 of Florida statutes does not allow municipalities to “enact or enforce any ordinance on a matter covered by this chapter unless expressly authorized.” A 2005, ruling by then-Attorney General Charlie Crist (now governor) advanced the same argument ( view ruling).

Like other Florida cities, Temple Terrace claims to “get around” this restriction by creating its own type of ordinance violation that is adjudicated by a newly created red light camera “hearing officer.” Townsend argues that the state constitution gave the legislature exclusive jurisdiction over the civil traffic hearing officer system and it cannot just create a quasi-judicial system on a whim.

“No other courts may be established by the state, any political subdivision or any municipality,” Article 5, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution states.

Because Temple Terrace cannot use state law to enforce its camera tickets, the city’s ordinance states that a vehicle owner who fails to pay a citation will be “denied any rights and privileges that such person may otherwise be entitled to enjoy, receive, or benefit from the city of Temple Terrace, including… the right to utilize municipal facilities, and the right to obtain any licenses or permits contemplated in the code.” Townsend argues that this punishment is excessive and violates the due process rights of vehicle owners.

In 2007, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against an argument nearly identical to that of Temple Terrace based on a law, also part of Florida’s code, requiring uniformity in traffic laws ( view ruling).

The Newspaper
The Newspaper

More by The Newspaper

Join the conversation
2 of 12 comments
  • R H R H on Aug 28, 2009

    GS650G> I'm guessing if GPS tracking comes in to play, and I could get an insurance discount, I'd probably do it -- esp if it can't be fitted to older motorcycles :) I'd then trade in my sports car for something silly/small and use the left over cash + my old bike to snag a litrebike. It seems no matter if it benefits or hinders, motorcyclists are left behind.

  • ZoomZoom ZoomZoom on Aug 29, 2009

    The inability to track motorcycles may just be the way to stop GPS tracking. After all, it's un-equal application of the law. Unless they outlaw motorcycles. And bicycles. And walking.

  • Loser What’s next, simulation of the “Hemi tick”?
  • Ajla There's a melancholy to me about an EV with external speaker-generated "engine" noise and fake transmissions. It feels like an admission from the manufacturer that you're giving something up and they are trying to give back some facsimile of it. Like giving a cupcake scented candle to someone on a diet. If I was shopping for an EV I'd rather go to a company enthusiastic about it rather than apologetic.
  • EBFlex More proof of how much EVs suck. If you have to do this, that means you are trying to substitute what people want...and that's ICE.
  • Akear The only CEO who can save Boeing, GM, and Ford is Alan Mulally. Mulally is largely credited with saving both Boeing and Ford. The other alternative is to follow a failed Jack Welch business model. We have all witnessed what Jack Welch did to GE, and what happened to Boeing when it was taken over by GE-trained businessmen. Below is an interesting article on how Jack Welch indirectly ruined Boeing.https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-boeing-was-set-on-the-path-to-disaster-by-the-cult-of-jack-welch
  • ChristianWimmer The interior might be well-made, but the design is just hideous in my opinion. It’s to busy and there’s no simplistic harmony visible in it. In fact I feel that the nicest Lexus interior ever could be found in the original LS400 - because it was rather minimalistic, had pleasing lines and didn’t try to hard. It looked just right. All Lexus interiors which came after it just had bizarre styling cues and “tried to hard” if you know what I mean.