By: Sharon Aron Baron
On Wednesday afternoon, Tamarac city commissioners will be holding a meeting regarding the red light cameras and the recent ruling from the Fourth District Court of Appeals that may have put the brakes on the red-light camera program.
Because this is a shade session with their attorney, the public nor the press is allowed and the court reporter transcripts are sealed until the conclusion of the litigation.
In the nine-page ruling, the court said the city cannot delegate its legal authority to issue traffic violations to a private, for-profit third party, in this case, American Traffic Solution which is the camera operator that Tamarac signed a contract with back in December 2012.
Here’s how it works: when a driver runs a red light, the camera sends the picture and video of the violation to ATS. Their company representatives reviews the video to determine if a violation occurred and then sends the information to the police agency to confirm.
The court said: “For all practical purposes, it is the vendor that decides which cases the TIEO (Traffic Infraction Enforcement Officer) gets to review; it is the vendor who initially determines who is subject to prosecution for a red light violation; it is the vendor that obtains the information necessary for the completion of the citation; it is the vendor that creates the actual citation; it is the vendor that issues the citation to the registered owner of the vehicle; and, it is the vendor that eventually transmits the traffic citation data to the court.”
“In Florida, only law enforcement officers and traffic enforcement officers have the legal authority to issue citations for traffic infractions, which means only law enforcement officers and traffic enforcement officers are entitled to determine who gets prosecuted for a red light violation.”
The court initially ruled against the driver last year but was asked to rehear the case and has now reversed its decision.
The group of lawyers say “hundreds of thousands” of motorists who have been subjected to fines and traffic tickets since July 2012 are eligible to join the lawsuit.
According to the Miami Herald, the lawsuit against the company is the latest salvo in what figures to be a protracted legal battle to protect the validity of hundreds of thousands of red-light camera tickets issued across the state since since July 2010. So far, no cities have been named in the lawsuits.
Hollywood City Attorney Jeffrey P. Sheffel said lawsuits are not unexpected, but that Oct. 15 appeals court ruling has not been finalized as lawyers appeal the ruling.
Tamarac Talk will keep you posted. In the meantime, contact an attorney and find out if you should pay or hold on to that red light camera ticket.