Flash! Just like that the great state of Florida took my wallet from my back pocket, opened it, and took $158 of my hard earned money. Like thousands of other Floridians, I was now the victim of the infamous “red light” camera posted on many of our towns’ most popular intersections. Coded as Florida Statute 316.0083, this Florida statute allows Florida to take the “big brother” role even further and issue traffic citations based on a snap shot of a motorist entering an intersection through a red (or pink as I recall it) light. Within 30 days of the violation the motorist will receive a notice in the mail detailing the violation, including a picture of the vehicle committing the violation with a close up of the motorist’s license plate. Cue your friends to point and laugh at you starting… Now. Upon receipt of this fine gift from the Sunshine State, you will have 30 days to make one of the following claims of exception via sworn affidavit in order to possibly take your tires
from the fire:
a. The motor vehicle passed through the intersection in order to yield right-of-way to an emergency vehicle or as part of a funeral procession;
b. The motor vehicle passed through the intersection at the direction of a law enforcement officer;
c. The motor vehicle was, at the time of the violation, in the care, custody, or control of another person; or
d. A uniform traffic citation was issued by a law enforcement officer to the driver of the motor vehicle for the alleged violation of s. 316.074(1) or s. 316.075(1)(c)1.
Alright then. Enjoy your chances of contesting these bad boys under any of these fine exceptions. The opportunity cost involved for someone trying to find the dispatch report of that emergency vehicle and then correlating it’s passing through the intersection at the same time as you is going to be a little more costly than the $158 marching out of your pocket. Pretty sure the state knew that when they wrote that “exception.” Finding Officer Friendly who directed you through the red flag is probably a needle in the haystack endeavor as well. The chances of an officer setting up shop near one of these cameras to issue moving violations flies in the face of the camera law’s purpose so exception “d” is erroneous. Lastly, good luck showing your vehicle was in the care and custody of another at this time. I know my buddies who borrow my vehicle would be standing on their head to take that bullet. Seriously, don’t we have officers happy to write traffic citations? I seem to see them everywhere.
Though the citizen proponents of this statute undoubtedly had the best of intentions, this Florida statute has turned into nothing more than another effort by Florida to generate revenue in a terrible economy. At its core, a citation issued by a machine is grossly unfair. How does one exercise their sixth amendment right to cross-examine a box? Granted, one may say the citation is not criminal in nature, but it sure is issued by the state so why shouldn’t you be able to challenge it? Furthermore, the noted reasons to contest the ticket shift the burden of proof from the state to the defendant. This is America, since when do defendants have to prove their innocence?
Luckily it looks as if both the Florida House and Florida Senate are moving to repeal this statute. In March 2011 a bill to repeal this statute passed the House Economic Affairs Committee by a vote of 10-8. In April of this year a bill to repeal the statute made it through the Senate Transportation Committee as well. Further, there are rumblings in the Senate that many Senators would back the Statute’s repeal should it ever make the Senate floor.
At the end of the day this statute is another money generator for Florida. It’s not fair and needs to go. If you’ve been issued a traffic citation that you didn’t deserve, call The Mayberry Law Firm today at 727-771-DUIS (3847) and lets fight for what’s fair!