Miami-Dade Puts a Stop to Red Light Cameras

Miami-Dade county commissioners passed a measure eliminating red light cameras in the unincorporated areas of the county. Commissioners decided the cameras have been rife with controversy, and have proved very costly and ineffective.trafficlight2

The move will not affect red light cameras installed in municipal areas of the county, such as the City of Miami. However, in areas like Schenley Park, Kendall, Westchester and Fountainebleau, where residents spoke out fervently against installation of the cameras, the commission has ensured the technology won’t be installed.

Back in 2011, commissioners passed an ordinance that opened the door for red light cameras in Miami-Dade’s unincorporated regions. However, the system never actually got up and running.

As you may know, these cameras snap photographs of alleged red light runners as they pass through an intersection. But there has been controversy about this technology on a number of fronts, both in South Florida and throughout the country.

As USA Today reported three years ago, red light cameras drummed up $100 million in fines in Florida in a single year. But the argument has been that these cameras haven’t actually made Florida roads any safer. The truth of the matter is that traffic accidents and fatalities in Florida have continued to climb since these cameras have been installed, which indicates the features are actually a “backdoor tax increase.”

Research has shown that while the red light cameras did serve to decrease some types of accidents, other types of collisions increased or continued to rise. An audit of the program in St. Petersburg revealed that side-impact crashes at intersections where the cameras had been installed did go down. Unfortunately, rear-end collisions at those same intersections increased because so many vehicles were abruptly stopping short to avoid getting a ticket.

In total, 21 states plus the District of Columbia and U.S. Virgin Islands allow some degree of red light camera use. However, 10 states have laws expressly forbidding them and 19 don’t have any law allowing or forbidding them.

The cameras have run up against a number of legal challenges throughout the state prior to this decision by the Miami-Dade commissioners. For example in Orlando, an attorney who was ticketed discovered that a third party, American Traffic Solutions, a Hollywood-based company, was hired to review the footage before deciding whether to issue citations to drivers. The Orlando Sentinel reported precedent indicating that assigning police power to third parties is an improper delegation. A circuit court of appeals in February ruled in her favor, though technically, the ruling applies only to her case and does not have an effect on the use of red light cameras in general. Still as she later said, “You should really fight it because the city has no leg to stand on.”

In May the Miami-Dade Commissioners’ Metropolitan Services committee submitted a recommendation to repeal the county’s authority to install these cameras. The commission then took on the issue for a final vote and adopted the committee’s recommendation.

As our Miami criminal defense attorneys know, these devices are legally troublesome and there are many potentially viable arguments that can be employed.

Contact the Miami criminal defense lawyers at Jacobs Keeley at (305) 358-7991 for a confidential consultation on your pending criminal matter.

Additional Resources:

Red light cameras no longer allowed in certain parts of Miami-Dade County, June 7, 2016, By Emily Cochrane, Miami Herald

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