Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Red Light Cameras
Red light cameras have already earned millions for the state and for the cities that have installed them, but some drivers are beating tickets in court. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case
WSVN -- With every flash of the strobe light a $158 ticket is on the way to someone for running a red light. The money gets split between the state and local governments .
7 News has obtained department of revenue records that show the state of Florida has made more than two million dollars on red light camera tickets in just three months.
The top money generating cities: Orlando, Aventura and North Miami and with more cameras due to come on line in more cities, those numbers are expected to climb even higher and more drivers are likely to challenge them in court.
Judge Steven Deluca: "How do I know when this was taken?"
Judges are now dealing with the legal issues these camera tickets are generating. Broward County Judge Steven Deluca has questioned in court the role judges play in the camera issued tickets. They are not treated the same as tickets issued by police if you get a ticket from an officer there's a record for a judge to consider.
Judge Steven Deluca: "I get to send them to driving school. I get to suspend their license if I think they're a crummy enough driver."
When it comes to the camera tickets, you could run a hundred lights and a judge would never know.
Judge Steven Deluca: "These things don't ever come to me as long as they're paying their money to the respective cities. How is that consistent with safety?"
Ted Hollander: "The law itself in my opinion is unconstitutional."
Ticket attorney Ted Hollander has had success in challenging the tickets.
Ted Hollander: "And people think that if you receive a ticket with a camera - there's no defense and that's not really true."
In court Hollander has questioned the photos and videos that go with the camera tickets. They come from an out of state company that governments hire to install and monitor the cameras. No local authorities can testify as to how and when the pictures were recorded.
Judge Steven Deluca: "And I'm supposed to give the endorsement of the state of Florida judiciary when every step along the way is something I'm just not comfortable with it. Not guilty."
Hollander has also challenged how the out of state camera company verifies who owns a vehicle since no official government records like car registrations are being submitted along with the ticket in court, Pembroke Pines' city attorney had to admit it relies on the red light camera company.
Judge Steven Deluca: "Do you have that government record?"
Michael Cirullo: "Well the vendor access that government record."
Judge Steven Deluca: "But the issue is do you have it here today?"
Michael Cirullo: "I don't know that I have it here today."
And with that another ticket was thrown out on this day Hollander won three of three cases.
Carmel Cafiero: "No matter if you think these cameras are all about safety or all about money. The fact is the challenges to the law that allows them are just getting started."
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