Judge Rules Red Light-Camera Ticketing Illegal in One Florida City

February 24th, 2010 by

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (firstcoastnews) — A state circuit judge has put the brakes on red light cameras in one South Florida city – the same cameras that have been considered in Duval and St. Johns counties.

Monday’s ruling said the city of Aventura was using cameras illegally to catch red light violators. Since 2008, Aventura has collected at least $1 million in revenue from citations connected to the red light cams.

Judge Jerald Bagley ruled that’s not allowed under state law, and that relying only on a camera alone, rather than a law enforcement officer, to spot a violation and issue a fine was not legal.

Because of ongoing legal questions like those, Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford has held off on installing and implementing red light cameras here.

City leaders, however, still think the cameras are a good idea. They’re just waiting for state lawmakers to give them the green light.

In busy downtown Jacksonville, it’s feet versus fast wheels for pedestrians like Eric Stordahl. “You have to be aware,” said Storhdal, who has to walk among downtown drivers working as a pet sitter.

He only wishes drivers would slow down. “Red lights get run. They turn in front of you as you try to cross in the crosswalk,” said Stordahl.

The city of Jacksonville hopes to eventually use red light cameras as a safety measure. Jacksonville Mayor’s Office Director of Communications Misty Skipper said the city likes the cameras for two reasons.

“Intersections that have red light cameras installed have fewer traffic accidents. (And) the second reason is that it frees up police resources that can be used in other areas,” she said.

The ongoing debate is just what Jacksonville leaders did not want, so they’ve held off on for now.

“We have made the decision to move forward and support a legislative remedy as opposed to a legally challenges system,” said Skipper.

Organizations like the Florida Civil Rights Association and National Motorists Association hope to prevent the cameras because they said they cause more harm than good and deny motorists their constitutional rights.

The FCRA president calls the Aventura ruling a “major victory” and wants other cities to stop using red light cameras immediately.

Stordahl thinks the cameras would help make Jax more pedestrian friendly. “I think it would be a good step. We definitely need something to help out.”

Right now there are at least three bills moving through the Florida legislature addressing red light camera enforcement.

One bill introduced by Sen. Thad Altman would put in place uniform rules and regulations for cities across the state if they choose to use the cameras.

Altman hopes to have the bill passed before the upcoming session ends in May. Sheriff John Rutherford is also lobbying for legislation to pass.

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