In 2008 the American economy began to meltdown. At that same time, cities across the country started to feel the pinch in their budgets. It was around this time that the snake oil salesmen started approaching city councils, especially in Florida, with a solution. Their solution was American Traffic Solutions. This company convinced city councils all over Florida that they have a win win solution to their problem. They said they could reduce traffic accidents, let the police focus on non-red light ticket issues and we could all make a lot of money in the process. Of course, to the public, they said it was strictly about making intersections more safe. Like most things in this world, it sounded too good to be true and it wasn't. First, Traffic accidents have not gone down, in fact, they have gone up in some intersections. Second, after $50,000,000 worth of tickets were mailed, the cities are barely breaking even and losing money in some cases. Citizens are outraged and business owners are loosing money because people avoid areas with these cameras.
Our Lawyers have been doing their part as well. We have been fighting red light camera tickets from the beginning which I will discuss more below. Some cites have begun to question the wisdom of these cameras. There have been Bills proposed in the Florida Legislature to ban the cameras. There are other Bills the propose banning tickets from making a right turn on a red light. Unfortunatley, the companies that profit from our citizens money have hired lobbyists and are fighting very hard to keep the status quo and even expand the program further. This isn't the first or the last article you will be seeing about this issue. But because I get the question posed to me almost every day "should I pay my red light camera ticket", I will tell you why the answer is absolutely NO.
REASON #1 | GUILT:
As most of you know, we always tell clients never to pay a traffic ticket because of the points it will put on your license and the consequences that will follow. That analysis does not apply for the following reason. If you get a Red Light Camera Ticket in the mail, it does not carry points. This was one of the ways the camera ticket companies subverted the Constitution and avoided a legal battle they would have lost. That would sound like good news to you if you got a camera ticket, but don't be fooled. It is true that if you pay the camera ticket within 30 days you will not get points, but you will be found GUILTY. What does that mean in practical terms you ask? You do not get points, but on your driving record it will show that you got a ticket for going through a red light and you were admitted guilt. This has at least two negative consequences. First, your insurance company will still see that you plead guilty to a red light ticket, regardless of the points. Thus, they will feel quite justified in raising your insurance rates and you can't do anything about it. Second, the next time you get a ticket and the judge looks at your record, he will see that you admitted guilt for another ticket. He is much less likely to give you a break with that on your record.
REASON #2 | MONEY:
If you just pay the red light camera ticket, it is usually around $158. That assumes you got the ticket on time and paid it promptly. More often than not, people forget to pay it or don't even get it in the mail. If you don't get it or pay it, you will receive a UTC in the mail. A UTC is a Uniform Traffic Citation and now its much more serious. The UTC is the yellow traffic ticket most of us are familiar with and it comes from the State of Florida, not the paper you get from the for-profit private company. Now it can effect your license, registration and driving privileges. The cost of this ticket is around $290 and if you don't pay it there are more severe consequences. Of course, you can always fight both tickets and that's exactly what we tell all of our clients.
REASON #3 | FIGHT BACK:
You can fight back. There are many legal ways to beat a red light camera ticket. The law is still in flux on these tickets, but we can and do get them dismissed. Very often the person who is supposed to come to court to testify about the camera does not show up. Even if she does show up, she doesn't always have her paperwork in order. And assuming she does, the judge has to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in that intersection when the light turned red. Here are a few more of the legal reasons we get these tickets dismissed:
- Where there adequate Signs warning drivers of the cameras?
- Was the yellow light enough?
- Was there a 30 day warning period in the city?
- Is the photo of the driver clear enough to prove it's him?
These are just a few ways we fight red light camera tickets. So like we tell our clients who get other traditional tickets, DON'T PAY IT - FIGHT BACK.
Jason Diamond is the Founding Partner of the Traffic Ticket Team. Jason has been practicing law in Florida for over 18 years. His Attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience and have handled over 1,000,000 traffic tickets in Florida. Jason has given legal ticket clinic seminars throughout Florida ranging from topics on "How to Beat a Florida Traffic Ticket" and "What to do When You Get Pulled Over for DUI in Florida." If you would like Jason to come to your place of business and do a 30 minute clinic, you can contact us 24/7 at (954) 967-9888, Jason@TrafficTicketTeam.com to arrange it.