2013 Changes to the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act
American Traffic Solutions, the leading red-light safety camera provider in Florida would like to remind all drivers of several important changes to the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act that will take effect July 1, 2013.
Below you will find useful information about these changes to the red-light safety camera law.
ATS Clients in Florida
HB 7125 Overview
The legislation clarifies and enhances several provisions of the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, including:
- Right turn on red violations;
- Alternative procedures for challenging Notices of Violations
Florida Red-Light Safety Program Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How has the standard changed for finding a red-light camera violation when a car is making a right-hand turn at a red light?
A: The new legislation elaborates on the previous “careful and prudent standard” and specifies that a notice of violation and a uniform traffic citation may not be issued by a local government using a red light camera if the driver of the vehicle comes to a complete stop, even if that stop is after crossing the stop line and before turning right (if right hand turns on red are permissible at a red light). Other right turns on red not performed in a “careful and prudent manner” may be cited as a violation.
Q: What is the effect of enforcement on points against licenses and insurance rates.
A: None. The law continues to provide that violations enforced using traffic infraction detectors do not result in points and may not be used to set motor vehicle insurance rates.
Q: Is there a new process for enforcing violations?
A: Yes, but the new process mainly applies to the notice of violation stage and not the uniform traffic citation stage. The recent legislative amendments to the Wandall Act still provide a two-step process for enforcing red light violations with intersection safety cameras. The first step is sending the registered owner a notice of violation. This must occur within thirty (30) days of the violation. However, the owner now has 60 days (30 more than under the initial Wandall Act) following the notification to take one of three actions:
(a) Pay the $158 statutory penalty;
(b) Submit an affidavit transferring liability or establishing one of the other statutory exemptions from liability; or
(c) Request a hearing before a local hearing officer appointed by the local government.
If the owner submits an affidavit establishing the liability of another driver, then the driver identified in the affidavit must now be sent a notice of violation (not a uniform traffic citation as was the case previously). This allows the person to whom liability has been transferred to avoid the immediate issuance of a uniform traffic citation (with potentially a higher total cost) and have an opportunity to pay the statutory notice of violation penalty. However, if the owner does not take one of the three actions specified in (a) through (c) above within the new 60-day notice of violation period, then a uniform traffic citation shall be issued within thirty (30) days of the expiration of the 60-day period. As before, uniform traffic citations are enforced in the county court.
Q: How should affidavits identifying another person as the driver of the vehicle be handled?
A: A driver may submit a transfer of liability affidavit after receiving either a NOV or UTC. If the submitted affidavit complies with the requirements of the statute, a new notice of violation will be issued and mailed to the person identified as the driver of the vehicle within thirty (30) days after receipt of the affidavit. At the local government’s option, the violator may receive a notice of insufficient information if the affidavit fails to comply with the requirements of the statute. Should a local government opt to use the insufficient information notice form provided by ATS, the local government will need to amend the current contract with ATS to provide for such notices.
Q: Can alleged violators request a hearing on the notice of violation?
A: Yes, and this is an important change resulting from the new legislation. Under HB7125, a registered owner who receives the notice of violation now has three options in responding to the notice of violation. Those options are: (a) pay the statutory penalty; (b) provide an affidavit; or (c) request a hearing before a local hearing officer appointed by the local government. If an alleged violator requests a hearing, the notice of violation will never become a uniform traffic citation.
If a violator requests a hearing on a notice of violation and later decides to pay the penalty and cancel the hearing before it has occurred, then the violator must pay an additional $50 in administrative costs to the local government. If a violator requests a hearing on a notice of violation and is unavailable for the date set by the clerk to the local hearing officer, then the violator may reschedule the hearing once by submitting a written request to reschedule at least five (5) calendar days before the originally scheduled hearing date.
If a violator seeks a hearing on a notice of violation (becoming a “petitioner”) and the violation is upheld by the local hearing officer, the petitioner will be responsible for administrative costs of up to $250 in addition to the $158 statutory penalty. If a petitioner refuses to comply with the final administrative order, then, within ten (10) days of the failure to comply, the clerk to the local hearing officer shall notify the DHSMV of such failure. The DHSMV may not issue a license plate or revalidation sticker to that person until the amounts assessed have been fully paid. If a petitioner is dissatisfied with the local hearing officer’s ruling, the petitioner may appeal the decision to the circuit court by paying the filing fee, filing the appropriate papers with the circuit court, and notifying the clerk of the local hearing officer.
Q: How are hearings on notices of violation to be scheduled?
A: Upon receipt of a request for hearing on a notice of violation, the clerk to the local hearing officer shall cause a hearing notice to be sent to the petitioner via first-class mail. The petitioner may reschedule the hearing once by submitting a written request to reschedule to the clerk to the local hearing officer at least five (5) calendar days before the originally scheduled hearing date. When a hearing is requested, the traffic infraction enforcement officer has fourteen (14) days to provide the violation data to the clerk for the local hearing officer. Thus, the hearing should be set no less than fourteen days after the date that a request for hearing is received from the petitioner.
Q: Are there any other requirements for hearings on notices of violation?
A: The following are additional hearing requirements.
- The local government is required to have the local hearing officer, a traffic infraction enforcement officer and the clerk to the local hearing officer present at each hearing.
- The traffic infraction enforcement officer who originally approved the violation does not need to be the officer that attends the hearing.
- The local hearing officer shall take testimony from a traffic infraction enforcement officer and the petitioner, and also may take testimony from others.
- Proof of mail: if the violator initiates the hearing to dispute the NOV or UTC, he/she is considered to have waived the right to dispute the delivery of the NOV.
- The hearing must be recorded. The recording must be retained in accordance with the local government’s public records retention schedule, but in no event can it be shorter than the thirty (30) days allotted to file an appeal.
- The local hearing officer shall review the photographic or electronic images or the streaming video.
- The amendments to the Wandall Act provide that formal rules of evidence do not apply, but due process shall be observed.
- On appeal to the circuit court, if applicable, the circuit court will review whether procedural due process was afforded, whether the essential requirements of the law were observed, and whether the administrative findings and judgment are supported by substantial competent evidence.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the local hearing officer shall uphold or dismiss the violation.
- If the local hearing officer upholds the violation, the local hearing officer shall require the petitioner to pay the $158 penalty plus administrative costs of up to $250.
Q: What if a petitioner fails to appear at a scheduled hearing before a local hearing officer or fails to pay the penalty owed after a notice of hearing is upheld by the local hearing officer?
A: Within ten (10) days after the petitioner’s failure to pay the amount due as specified in the final administrative order, the clerk to the local hearing officer shall cause the DHSMV to be notified of such failure. The DHSMV may not issue a license plate or revalidation sticker to the petitioner until the amounts assessed have been fully paid.