Florida Cities Exploit Legal Loophole For Financial Gain

More and more cities in Florida are plotting to create local ordinances that skirt the state’s ban on red-light ticket cameras. Larry Lebowitz gives a good overview of the situation in the Miami Herald.

Armed with a loophole in state law that was first exploited by the tiny Panhandle town of Gulf Breeze, dozens of Florida cities and towns are rushing to adopt new local ordinances that will allow them to install cameras at intersections and snap images of license plates when vehicles run red lights.

A perfect storm has arisen for the camera vendors. The driving public is fed up with the chaos on today’s roads. Red-light running is rampant — and not just in South Florida.

The state, citing legitimate engineering, public safety and privacy concerns, refuses to adopt the cameras.

So the vendors, armed with well-connected experts and lobbyists, have turned to the cash-starved municipalities with a pitch that few elected officials can resist:

“We’ll give you the cameras for free! The city keeps the lion’s share of the revenue! And you’ll be a hero to your frustrated constituents!”

So the cities and towns dig deeper into the public’s collective pocket, the vendors skimming a percentage of the gross.

But will the streets actually be safer?

Probably not.

You can read the full article here: Red-light cameras a signal for war.

In order to get the cameras installed, the city has decided to write the ordinances so that the violations do not put any points on drivers’ licenses. Why would the city decriminalize a violation as serious as running a red light? You have to look no further than Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff’s prediction of a $10 million annual revenue from the cameras. The camera manufacturers want a cut of the money too so it’s no surprise that their public relations front, The National Campaign To Stop Red-Light Running, is helping the city lead the charge.

Making the violations a civil penalty removes a lot of drivers’ due process rights and makes it difficult to fight the citation in court. The more of a hassle it is to fight a ticket, the more easily the city can collect their revenue.

Check out the NMA’s photo enforcement section for more information, including realistic alternatives to red-light cameras.

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