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Florida Supreme Court To Hear Right-Light Camera Challenge

Posted on August 26, 2013

It seems like nothing seems to polarize a community more than red-light traffic cameras. While proponents of the controversial system believe that the traffic cameras encourage safer driving practices, opponents insist that the cameras are merely money-making machines designed to enrich the state and the camera companies, but do little to generate income for local communities.

The Florida Supreme Court has decided it will hear a challenge to red-light cameras that were installed in Palm Coast before July 1, 2010. A state law kicked in that allowed cities in Florida to run such systems after that date.

Those opposed to the cameras have charged that Palm Coast set up 10 cameras when state law “preempted” cities and counties from enacting red-light camera ordinances.

Previous rulings from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal and Florida’s Third Circuit Court of Appeal made the issue about as clear as mud. While a ruling from the Third Circuit found no conflict between state and local ordinances in a similar case it heard against the city of Aventura, the Third Circuit Court overturned that ruling last year, stating that state law did forbid red-light ordinances before July 1, 2010.

The outcome of this case could be an expensive one for Palm Coast. If the Supreme Court finds against the city, it could be on the hook for up to $1.2 million in reimbursements (the city reaped $1.76 million in fines from red-light violations before July 2010).

Current state law allows cities to run red-light camera systems, although the fee structure is narrowly regulated. Currently, a city must give $83 to the state out of a mandated $158 red-light fine. Cities also have to pay a share to the companies that run the systems, which leave them with little actual revenue from those tickets.

The Florida Supreme Court plans on hearing the Palm Coast case on October 8.

The traffic violation attorneys at Farah & Farah in St. Augustine will be watching this case with great interest. Tickets shouldn’t be taken lightly and there is no reason to take them sitting down. If you are facing a traffic violation, call us at (800) 533-3555 or contact Farah & Farah online for a confidential case evaluation.