With all the fanfare surrounding Red Light traffic tickets these days, Florida drivers shutter at the mere mention of the word “camera.” But news that South Florida police agencies are considering more dashboard or even body-mounted cameras should not be met with similar despair. Any tool the police use to “capture” images of potential traffic violations is also an opportunity for drivers and ticket attorneys to challenge a citation.
Just ask Rod MacIver, a Vermont artist who used a dashcam from the police officer’s patrol car to challenge and beat a red light ticket. He is now suing the department for $2,000 stemming from the stop.
The case garnered plenty of attention (CNN and the Huffington Post wrote about it!). As well as providing a good lesson not take a cop's, or his sergeant’s, word for something, the case shows how dash cams can be used for your defense. However, one piece of advice would be to NOT react the way Mr. MacIver reacted when the officer pulled him over. In Florida, being anything but polite to the officer will only make things worse at the scene and very possibly hurt your chances in court.
Like always, there are some things you should know before you start rejoicing just because you see a dashboard camera. The first is that even if they have a dash or body-mounted camera, police officers are not necessarily required to record a stop.
And if they do, they won’t necessarily tell you as the Florida Rules of Traffic Court do not require disclosure of video evidence.
In order to obtain such evidence, if it exists, one must file a public records request under Florida Statute Section 119. Doing so quickly is the best way to assure you get the evidence as there is no standard time where such videos are kept. That’s another reason to hire a ticket attorney – as if you needed any more! – as they will know the best way to get that video evidence.
Of course, just having access to a video of your traffic stop doesn't guarantee anything except that both sides can potentially use evidence when arguing their case regarding a traffic ticket.
Another benefit of the cameras is that officers know they are being "watched” and tend to behave better. But that goes for you as well, so make sure to follow these rules after you are stopped, or risk having them re-broadcast for a not-so-sympathetic judge.
Now that you know a little about dash and body-mounted cameras and how to get them and use them, check out how prevalent they are becoming in South Florida:
It seems pretty clear that we will only see more dashboard or body-mounted cameras on police as time goes on.
If you have a Florida traffic ticket and would like an opinion about it for FREE, please call 866-374-8355 and I or my staff will be happy to review it with you and tell you what we think would be in your best interest.