Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Big Brother Faces Challenges

Traffic Cameras, Civil Traffic Violations, Florida Attorney, Florida Lawyer, Moving Violation, Tampa Attorney, Traffic TicketsMany cities in Florida rushed to install red light cameras without legislative authorization and now they are facing challenges to keep these cameras in place. There’s a pending class action lawsuit against the city of Temple Terrace for permitting American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to install and operate the traffic cameras. The traffic camera program was initiated to generate $3 million in annual revenue, mostly targeting vehicles that were illegally turning right at red lights where prohibited. Although Florida’s legislation has consistently refused to permit automated ticketing, these companies proceeded to install the cameras. The primary argument against Temple Terrace is that there’s already state law in place for red light running and Florida Statutes § 316.007 doesn't allow municipalities to "enact or enforce any ordinance on a matter covered by this chapter unless expressly authorized". Like other cities in Florida, Temple Terrace claims to avoid this restriction by creating it’s own ordinance violation adjudicated by a recently created red light camera "hearing officer". However, according to attorney, Jack L. Townsend, Jr., the state constitution gave our legislature exclusive jurisdiction over civil traffic hearing officer systems and cities cannot just implement their own judicial system. Since Temple Terrace cannot use state law to enforce camera based citations, the city’s ordinance gets its teeth by declaring that a vehicle owner who fails to pay the fines will be denied rights and privileges, including the right to use municipal facilities, to obtain licenses or permits, and other restrictions.