Written by David Leavitt, Owner of Refresh Computers.
While I am not qualified to give legal advice, I do consider myself a well-educated person on the unconstitutional overreach of Florida’s use of red-light ticketing cameras. These systems do not provide more safety. In fact, a recent USF study shows they cause more accidents than they prevent. Instead, these are nothing more than backdoor taxation by your local city or county governments, as well as the State of Florida.
A few years ago I helped lead the way for the City of Apopka to finally get rid of their red light cameras. And, as an outspoken critic of red-light cameras, I have helped to keep red-light ticketing cameras entirely out of Seminole County and the 7 cities inside Seminole County.
The ticket amount of $158 is the same in every Florida city and county because the Florida legislature dictated it so. Where does the $158 for the ticket go?
Here is a breakdown of where your $158 goes:
Cities and counties get to keep $75 for each ticket. The rest of the money goes to the Florida Department of Revenue.
The Florida Department of Revenue receives $83 for every single red light camera ticket, no matter what city or county produced it. Most of that, $70, goes straight into the State’s general fund to the tune of around $100 million dollars each year. It’s an addicting amount of money, meaning the entire Florida budget became dependent upon stealing from its citizens via taxation by citation. $3 funds brain and spinal cord research at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. How this got in there is also disgusting. Who doesn’t want to fund a cure for paralysis by stealing from taxpayers to do so? And $10 goes to trauma centers like emergency rooms. Again, a disgusting way to redistribute money stolen from citizens.
By the way, Camera equipment providers usually collect a fixed fee per camera, upwards of around $3,600 per month for each camera. This fee can vary in each city and county, but it’s easily paid for in the city or county budget when they are receiving $75 per ticket.
If they tell you it’s about safety – it’s a flat-out lie. It’s about the money and always has been. Remember 2008 when the housing market crashed and suddenly the State of Florida was losing tens of millions of dollars in real estate taxes due to property prices plummeting? It was shortly after that when Florida implemented statutes allowing red light ticketing cameras to make up for the lost revenue.
If you feel like me and you want to do your part to keep out this overreach (and other government overreaches), I have a few suggestions.
1) Attend your local city council meeting and prepare a 3-minute statement to read publicly and congratulate them on not having these municipality money-making machines. The most advantageous time to fight this overreach is to speak out BEFORE anyone on your local city council or commission gets the hair-brained idea of implementing red light ticketing cameras.
2) Call and make an appointment to speak face-to-face with the police chief in your city so that you can ask them their opinion about red-light cameras. Most will agree that they are an overreach. Do the same thing with the Sheriff.
Know your rights. Florida has closed most of the loopholes concerning red light camera tickets but there are a few things you should know.
Go to the red-light camera section of the Florida Statutes, 316.0083 and look at section 5, number 2 – It reads verbatim “A notice of violation and a traffic citation may not be issued for failure to stop at a red light if the driver is making a right-hand turn in a careful and prudent manner at an intersection where right-hand turns are permissible.” Does this mean you can roll through the light so long as you are turning right in a careful and prudent manner?
The ultimate penalty for not paying a red light ticket camera is the suspension of your driver’s license. However, if your vehicle is registered in a company name then the ticket will be sent to the company address and the ticket will name the company as the violator. While I do not condone running red lights, I never paid a red light camera ticket issued in my company name because companies don’t have driver’s licenses, so therefore the penalty for not paying is useless. All I ever received were collection notices that cannot be used against my credit or my company’s credit. No points were assessed either. Again – seek an attorney for their opinion.
Florida raked in over $100M in revenue because of red light camera tickets – most likely the number 1 reason legislators have been unable to get rid of them.
Municipalities like Winter Park, Orlando, Orange County, and others rake in 100’s of thousands of dollars in revenue.