An appeals court in south Florida has ruled that it was illegal for the City of Hollywood, FL, to effectively issue traffic citations involving red light cameras. Following that ruling, two Floridians have filed a federal class actions suit against the company, American Traffic Solutions, seeking more than $5 million. Attorney Steven Kramer discusses the lawsuit.
Kramer explains that the court has declared invalid the action of a city to trade away its authority to issue traffic citations in exchange for payments from ATS. That ruling is what led to the class action.
Kramer points out that the traffic camera company and the cities had set up a system offering motorists three options. At the outset, a vehicle owner receiving a citation could simply pay the fee and receive no points on his or her license, as with a parking ticket. Option two would be for the owner to claim not to been driving at the time, the owner can submit an affidavit and return the ticket. The third option would be to demand a court hearing. The catch is that, if you dispute the ticket and lose, you get points on your license as with any other moving violation.
“There are,” Kramer opines, “some serious constitutional issues that are being raised here.” Traditionally, there is a presumption that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof is on the state. In Florida, the burden was put on the owners of motor vehicles to show that they did not violate the law.
Kramer believes that states and cities that want to use red light cameras should change their practices so that motorists are clearly notified that the camera is operating 24 hours a day. Also, the yellow lights at intersections should not be shortened, as many have been, since that decreased reaction time can increase the risk of accidents and injuries. Also, the burden of proof needs to be placed on the city or the state rather than the owners of motor vehicles. Florida also needs to revise its “right on red” law provisions.
Steven D. Kramer is the founder of Kramer Law Firm. Kramer has been recognized as a Best Lawyer in America for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 (Woodward/White, 18th-21st Editions). Kramer was also recently recognized in Florida's Best Lawyers 2013 and 2014 Editions (featured in the Wall Street Journal and Orlando Sentinel). Kramer has also been recognized as a Top Lawyer in Orlando by Orlando Magazine for 2012, 2013, and 2014, as a Legal Elite Up & Comer by Florida Trend Magazine in 2010 and 2013, a Top Lawyer by Orlando Style Magazine, and Kramer has been rated 10 out of 10 as "superb" by Avvo.com since 2009. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.