Red Light Cameras at Hospital Entrance Investigated by Channel 10

Mayor Harry Dressler

By: Sharon Aron Baron

In the second time in just a few weeks, another person who was desperately seeking medical help at University Hospital, was not only ticketed by a red light camera that was placed in front of that location, but the fine was upheld by the Judge Magistrate appointed by the city.

In the Channel 10 interview, Mayor Dressler adamantly stands behind the magistrate’s decision not to throw out the ticket. In the video, Channel 10 interviewed Jacob Alcahe who was worried he was having a heart attack, so he rushed himself to University Hospital in Tamarac.

“I really couldn’t breathe, I was sweating, just a lot of things going on,” said Alcahe.

A few weeks later, Alcahe said he experienced similar symptoms when he received a $158 ticket in the mail. It appears the camera on University Drive at Northwest 72nd Street captured him running the red light at the entrance to the hospital.

“I was just kind of scared and I wanted to get to the hospital as soon as possible,” said Alcahe.

To make matters worse, the city’s magistrate refused to dismiss the ticket even after he showed them his discharge papers from the hospital.

“I went to the hearing and they just told me it wasn’t a good enough excuse,” Alcahe said.

Fort Lauderdale ticket attorney Ted Hollander, of The Ticket Clinic, believes the city put the camera there specifically to nab drivers so desperate for medical help, they’d run a red light.

“I’ve been a lawyer a long time and I’ve really never seen a city do something that’s so greedy, in my opinion,” said Hollander.

Hollander questions the state system that requires cities to pay their magistrates salaries.

“The person that’s acting as the judge is paid by Tamarac,” said Hollander. “Tamarac is the same city that’s giving the ticket so why wouldn’t that person say, of course, Tamarac gets the money?”

“Because if she doesn’t?” asked Local 10’s Roger Lohse.

“She will probably lose her position,” Hollander said.

The red-light camera on University Drive near the hospital is one of nine red-light cameras in Tamarac. The cross street is Northwest 72nd Street and it’s a two-lane road. The city calls it one of its most dangerous intersections, yet there’s only one camera there: it points north, where it can catch drivers turning left into the hospital.

Tamarac Mayor Harry Dressler said, “The city is not condoning, neither are we preying on anyone.”

Dressler told Local 10 the city is only trying to keep drivers safe and stands by the magistrate who, to date, has upheld at least two violations issued to emergency room patients.

“So if you’re headed to the emergency room here in Tamarac and you’re having trouble breathing, wait for the light to turn green?” asked Lohse.

“OK, it’s two minutes before my meeting. You’re going to have to excuse me. Please tell your viewers it’s illegal and it’s dangerous,” Dressler said.

“I was very surprised. I didn’t think it was right,” said Alcahe.

It turns out Alcahe was just having a panic attack. He’s fine now but said the $283 fine and fee he had to pay for racing to the hospital that day still stings.

“I would understand why they would have it at other streets, but the fact that it was at that turning signal for people that have emergencies each day, I just think that’s wrong, that’s not fair,” said Alcahe.

The city said it has issued 494 red-light violations at that intersection since the camera was turned on in August. However, city officials couldn’t tell Local 10 how many of those violators were turning left into the hospital.

This money grab hits home because I use this intersection frequently (so far non-emergency thank goodness). My two elderly parents are frequently in and out of this hospital. There is no good reason for a red light camera at this intersection… If you want to grab our money move it one intersection south to the intersection of Commercial Blvd and University, which has an extremely high rate of accidents. This red light camera at this intersection should be taken down in the name of safety. I have witnessed numerous near rear end collisions at this intersection… I have also noticed flashes at night (which is annoying at all red light intersections) when no cars drive through.’ – Commenter on Channel 10 article

This red light only targets cars making a left-hand turn into the hospital, not even cars running lights through the intersection.   What type of message is our city officials sending to its residents when they are targeting their own sick and elderly that are visiting the hospital?

 

About Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Tamarac Talk and Coral Springs Talk. Tamarac Talk was created in 2010 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Tamarac and to give resident's a forum. We are not affiliated with the City of Tamarac. That's why this site can be occasionally opinionated and obviously open.

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  • JETT

    All ya gotta do is get a FLIP PLATE and you are done…. One step ahead of bad laws…

    • Some guy

      Is that street legal?

  • George Stroker

    494 violations at that intersection so far. Hasn’t been that long. That is a chunk of change $$$$$$$$$$$ !!!!!!!

  • Paul_Henry1

    This is one of many bad things that happen when you turn law enforcement into a for-profit scheme, to include a kangaroo court where:
    1. Hearing officers are not required to have any legal training;
    2. Hearing officers are selected by and serve at the pleasure of the city that stands to profit from their verdicts;
    3. Hearing officers that cannot use formal rules of evidence- rules meant to ensure a fair trial is conducted; and
    4. A “court costs” system that results in 100% profit to the local camera scheme user. Unlike fine money, costs are not shared with anyone else.

    We spend tens of thousands of dollars training our police to enforce laws- and they can do so using discretion that no camera on a pole possesses as well as ticketing the offender, NOT the vehicle owner.

  • David Leavitt

    Wow. What a scumbag for a mayor!

  • Ashamed

    While I strongly believe that running red lights deserves appropriate consequences, there are cases where consideration should be given. This is certainly one. This person believed that he was in a potential life or death medical crisis; this was not a sprained ankle or broken finger. The video clearly shows that he used caution when turning and did not impede oncoming traffic. I wonder if the ticket would have been dismissed had he died? Something to ponder….
    So, what is the alternative?
    1. He could have sat there and become more ill, passed out, foot off the brake, and drove right into oncoming traffic. Or…
    2. Maybe he should have called an ambulance which would have been more expensive than the ticket, but then again no ticket would have been issued. Oh wait… the ambulance doesn’t use that entrance. They stop all on-coming traffic by using the most northern entrance to the hospital where there is no traffic signal. Of course, this real Emergency Entrance is not well marked for a person not familiar with this hospital.
    Mr. Alcahe, I’m sorry you had this misfortune and am glad that the diagnosis was not more serious. However, we would like to thank you for contributing to the cost of having the curbs along University Drive power washed.
    Signed, Ashamed.

  • TheGrittyEdge

    “OK, it’s two minutes before my meeting. You’re going to have to excuse me. Please tell your viewers it’s illegal and it’s dangerous,” Dressler said. I cant speak for the good citizens of Tamarac, but if MY Mayor was that aloof, arrogant and condescending when asked a legitimate question I would do everything and anything in my power to see that he was looking for a job next election cycle!

    Follow the money trail.. this is NOT about public safety, despite what the lying politicians tell you. Follow the money trail. Red light cams are all bout kickbacks to manufacturers and dollars lining the pockets of a few crooked politicians. Just a few months ago a big news story broke, from Jacksonville I believe that uncovered the corruption and big money kickbacks between the camera manufacturers and local politicians. If you get one of these tickets, don’t let some local “magistrate” fool you into giving up your hard earned money. Demand a jury trail and the right to face your accuser in court. Make them haul the camera into the court room!

  • Gefilte_Fish

    If we was white or an old jew, ticket will be dismiss. Racist jews…what an oxymoron.