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Broward County: South Florida judge rules that officers can no longer issue tickets for running red lights

According to the St. Petersbug Times, a Broward County judge has ruled this week that police officers cannot cite drivers for running red lights. Will this end all red-light cameras? Or put them on every corner?
Posted: June 3, 2011 - 4:01PM
Author: Roman Rosa

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The issue stems from the fact that there are two penalties for the same infraction. If a red light camera catches you in the act, you put $158 in an envelope and send it to the court. That's it, no points, nothing. If you get caught by an officer, however, you will have to pay $264 and get three points on your license, which usually means having to do a four hour traffic school.

Judge Fred Berman declared police-written red light citations unconstitutional because of the stiffer penalties. He said it violated equal protection clauses in both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions.

For years, opponents to red light cameras have claimed that they are installed as cash cows for municipalities. The cameras are good at what they do and are always on the job. If you blow through a red light with a camera watching, you're going to get a nice bill in the mail. Since the fine is relatively low, and there are no points, it's not worth the effort and cost to fight it in court. This saves the court a lot of money because there are less cases to try and generates good revenue for the municipality.

As it is, red light cameras are extremely unpopular with most people. Raising the fine to the same price as an officer written ticket and assessing points will surely not go over well with most people (obviously they wouldn't lower officer written penalties to match camera ones.)

The Florida attorney general's office is appealing the ruling. It will be interesting to see what happens in such a densely populated area. It could have a strong affect on the red light camera usage across America.

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Roman Rosa    June 5, 2011 - 2:31PM

The real problem is that nobody's rights are taken away in one fell swoop, since if we lost almost everything, there would be a revolt. It happens slowly and quietly. First red light cameras, then more speed cameras. Then cameras on every corner. Then GPS tracking, then the black boxes in your car recording your speed and sending it to the authorities if you speed. I know this all sounds like tin-foil-hat stuff, but is it really out of the realm of possibility?