Traffic citations are not fun for anyone. No one likes to go to their mailbox maybe weeks later to find they have a ticket for running the red light. Red light camera tickets are a little different than being pulled by an officer because the officer can use discretion while a camera cannot. It’s common to hear people issued red light camera tickets complain about the fairness, because of these complaints many states have had to look into the legality of these cameras.
American Traffic Solutions is the company that provides the red light cameras. The company helps municipalities to issue about 4 million citations annually. ATS has about 2,500 red light cameras through 275 communities in more than 20 states. The income generated from these cameras has made substantial revenue contributions for my municipalities.
According to Florida law the police have certain powers that cannot be delegated to private vendors; this is where things get a little sticky. Arizona based ATS has been able to use discretion and dismiss certain cases, but here in Florida that is not legal.
In South Florida 24,000 red-light tickets worth an estimated $6 million were dismissed earlier this week because of concerns that ATS is too involved in the outcome of cases. The number of red light cameras across the country has seen a steady decrease from their peak in 2012 according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
On October 15, 2014 the case of City of Hollywood v. Eric Arem ruled that the City did not have the authorization to delegate its police power to any red light camera vendor. The police had allowed a vendor to screen data and determine if a traffic violation had occurred before issuing a citation. This violates Florida statues, and the citation issued was made void. In October 2014 Palm Beach County stopped the use of red light cameras to issue citations.
In a June 12, 2014, decision, the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion to address the contradictory decisions of Masone v. City of Aventura and City of Orlando v. Michael Udowychenko. The third district court of appeal upheld the red light camera citation issued in Aventura, while the fifth district court issued the citation in Orlando unlawful and void. The supreme court of Florida agreed with the fifth district, holding the issuing of these citations void.