Florida Court Rulings Favor Red-Light Safety Cameras

February 27th, 2013

Contact: Charles Territo
Title: Vice President of Communications
Phone: (480) 443-7000
Email: media@atsol.com

 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Florida courts have consistently affirmed the constitutionality of the Mark Wandall Safety Act and continually upheld the rights of cities to use red-light safety cameras, as well as the processes they follow to issue violations.

In rulings since the law was enacted in July, 2010, judges have rebuffed challenges to the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, and described the law as a safety measure and a legitimate use of police powers.  Likewise, Florida courts have upheld the procedure in place to issue red-light running violations to the owner of the car and not the driver, and recognized that people who receive tickets are given the opportunity to challenge the violation. Judges also found that the images of a car running a red-light and the accompanying data showing the date, time, location and other specifics of the event are admissible as self-authenticating evidence, and that as long as a city issues a notice of violation within the proscribed timeline set by statute, it is perfectly permissible for a violation to be issued after the driver ran a red-light. Summaries of these decisions (and others) are provided below.

“These rulings are just a few clear examples of how judges in Florida have validated the legality of the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act and the use of red-light safety cameras.  Yet, critics continue to use failed arguments to mislead the public,” said ATS General Counsel George Hittner. “There is no question that red-light safety cameras operate in full compliance with the law and for the benefit of public safety.”

State v. Nathan (Sarasota County) — This ruling confirmed that determining the identity of the driver is not necessary when a violation is issued pursuant to Florida Statute §316.083. The court also held that the statute does not automatically deem a driver guilty of an infraction based on the issuance of a citation and that the driver is provided notice of a hearing and an opportunity to be heard. The court refuted the defendant’s assertion that an issuance of a red-light camera citation violated the driver’s right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment because the hearing afforded the defendant the opportunity to offer exculpatory evidence, such as an affidavit naming another person as the driver responsible for the violation. Most importantly, the court held that because the statute promotes safety on our highways, the statute is a legitimate exercise of the state of Florida’s police powers.

State v. Dinerno (Hillsborough County) — The court held that the receipt of a notice of violation under the statute does not start the time clock for the right to a speedy trial of the violator and that the state need not show proof of mailing to a registered owner to proceed with a case, rather an allegation that the state has failed to satisfy the notice requirement was an affirmative defense that must be proved by the defendant. Further, the state need not provide separate certification that the defendant is the registered owner. The court also ruled the red-light camera statute is clear and unambiguous, that photos, videos and electronic images of violations are admissible as self- authenticating evidence, and their respective data bars are also admissible.

State v. Dailey (Polk County) — The court admitted the video and still photographs of the red-light traffic violations as self-authenticating pursuant to the Florida Rules of Evidence, and also accepted the data bar on such visual evidence. Further, the court ruled that the state must only prove the identity of the owner, not the driver of the vehicle that committed the subject violation. Lastly, the court precluded any arguments pertaining to either constitutional claims or language of the agency’s contract to be raised during the course of the underlying trial on the red-light camera charge.

State v. Vanderpool (Miami-Dade County) — This ruling held that the state did not need to provide proof of mailing of a citation to the defendant to proceed with a case as it was presumed delivered based on customary business practices. In addition, registration information was deemed admissible to show ownership for purpose of issuing a violation; no separate certification of this information was necessary. Lastly, the photos and videos were deemed admissible where it was shown that cameras were tested and shown to be working properly during the relevant time period.

State v. Southeast Zimmer (Broward County) — Judge Steven P. DeLuca denied various motions submitted by drivers’ counsel on a number of constitutional and evidentiary issues, including equal protection, due process, speedy trial protections, and the admissibility of images captured by the cameras. The ruling set precedents for challenging the red-light cameras, limiting the arguments available to drivers seeking to get their tickets dismissed.

About American Traffic Solutions:

ATS is proud to be the market leader in road safety camera installations in North America. ATS has more than 3,000 installed red-light and speed safety cameras serving more than 30 million people. ATS has contracts in nearly 300 communities in 21 states and Washington, D.C., including more than 70 Florida municipalities.  ATS also offers PlatePass, an automated electronic toll payment service that enables rental vehicle customers to use high-speed, cashless electronic toll lanes. ATS is a privately-owned, U.S. corporation. For more information, please visit: www.atsol.com or www.PlatePass.com.  To view video that serves as a chilling reminder of the dangers that red-light runners present to our family and children; visit ATS on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/user/ATSRoadSafety

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