9/30/2007Florida DOT Confirms Use of Red Light Cameras Illegal
A Florida Department of Transportation letter confirms that cities using red light cameras to issue tickets are violating the law.
Several Florida jurisdictions, including Escambia County and Hallandale Beach, are considering the installation of red light cameras, even though the state legislature has refused to authorize the devices. Furious lobbying by the insurance and red light camera industries along with local governments interested in sharing in the revenue has put increased pressure on lawmakers to concede. Cities such as Apopka and Gulf Breeze could not resist the temptation to wait and have for the past few months have been issuing automated photo tickets at intersections. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) suggested in a letter last month that this may be illegal.
"The decision to allow or not allow the use of Red Light Running Cameras is determined by the Florida Legislature and Governor Crist," wrote Deputy State Traffic Operations Engineer Mark C. Wilson. "Current Florida Law does not allow the use of Red Light Running Cameras for the enforcement of a traffic violation. The Florida Department of Transportation does not allow the use of Red Light Running Cameras on any of our intersections on the State Highway System. We do know that some Florida cities are using Red Light Running Cameras for enforcement of a violation of a local city ordinance."
Dade City resident Stephen R Donaldson had written to his state representative, Tom Anderson, to suggest that longer yellow signal time was a superior alternative to the use of automated ticketing. Anderson forwarded Donaldson's concerns to FDOT.
"Tickets-by-mail is not law enforcement, it is revenue collecting," Donaldson said.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that a jurisdiction which had claimed red light cameras were not actually tickets but violations of a city ordinance had run afoul of a provision, also part of Florida's code, requiring uniformity in traffic laws (view ruling). A full copy of the FDOT letter is available in a 318k PDF file at the source link below.