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Florida Appellate Judges Rescue Red Light Camera Program
Florida Court of Appeal rejects challenge to the business rules between cities and red light camera vendors.

Judge Thomas LogueThe Florida Court of Appeal on Wednesday intervened in a legal dispute to rescue red light cameras in South Florida. The lucrative programs were imperiled by a Miami-Dade judge's decision blasting the use of for-profit camera contractors that create a hodge-podge legal landscape that changes from city to city (view ruling). State law requires traffic laws be uniform throughout Florida, but that provision does not apply to the use of red light cameras, the three-judge appellate panel found.

In the case at hand, American Traffic Solutions (ATS, now known as Verra Mobility) set up a unique set of "business rules" to govern the way the company's automated system decided guilt and innocence in Aventura. Motorist Lee Stein and lawyers from The Ticket Clinic argued that because these rules differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, conduct that would receive a ticket in Aventura would not receive a ticket in fifteen other jurisdictions, violating the statutory requirement for uniform traffic laws. The three-judge appellate panel rejected that line of reasoning.

"Stein's argument cannot be reconciled with the reasoning and holdings of the prior decisions of this court and the Florida Supreme Court upholding the same Aventura red light guidelines that Stein challenges here," Judge Thomas Logue wrote for the panel. "The guidelines are instructions each city gives its red light vendor regarding the contractual task of sorting camera images: they do not define traffic violations and are not traffic laws that apply to the driving public."

Aventura defined where a car is supposed to stop as, "Behind the Stop Line" while Key Biscayne said "Behind the Cross Walk" and Homestead went with "Behind the Prolongation of the Curb." The appellate judges insisted that these rules were not de facto city ordinances because a police department employee presses a button to "approve" citations sent over in bulk by the vendor.

"The guidelines thereby preserve police resources by limiting the universe of images reviewed by a police officer to only those images likely to yield a finding of probable cause," Judge Logue explained. "We know of no law, and Stein has cited to none, that holds such a local variation in traffic enforcement is a defense to a traffic citation."

The decision, which is likely to be appealed, is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: Aventura v. Stein (Court of Appeal, State of Florida, 6/25/2020)

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