ARTICLE UPDATE: 2/25/19
Since this post was written, much has been happening in the Red Light Camera Ticket world. First of all, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in Jimenez v. State, on May 3, 2018, that the cities are within their rights to have these cameras installed and issue tickets. As soon as that ruling came down, it caused a huge blow to our (and all attorneys) ability to fight them. Basically, once that ruling came down, the courts had to allow the cities to write tickets and it made it nearly impossible to fight them successfully.
Now, I say it’s almost impossible to fight “successfully” it is because it has always been our philosophy at Unger & Kowitt to only charge people money to fight them IF we firmly believe that we can beat them and get them thrown out. Once that ruling came down, it became obvious that Courts were no longer going to allow the attorneys to make motions or arguments to get cases thrown out. Therefore, in almost every instance, we stopped handling these types of cases.
The one exception is if you received a Red Light Camera Ticket and forgot about it, or missed your deadline to pay the $158. If that did happen to you, your notice of violation automatically turned into a Uniform Traffic Citation and now you must pay $277.00 AND you will receive a mark on your driving record. We are fighting those mainly to keep the adjudication from appearing on your driving record, which we can do. But again, if you have the option of paying $158, we still recommend that at the moment because it’s the better and cheaper option.
If you notice, I did write “at the moment” because as you write this, new challenges are being made to the way some cities are ticketing drivers. Mainly, those making a right turn on red, and I believe those will be successful soon. As soon as that’s the case, I will blog again and keep you posted.
In the giant scheme of things, getting a traffic ticket for running a red light, doesn't have to ruin your day. In fact, as I tell my clients if this is the worst thing that has happened to you, you're doing pretty good. It's all about perspective. In fact, you might look at it as a slight reminder to slow down, take an extra 5 minutes, smell the roses sort of thing.
Sure getting a ticket is annoying, but it doesn't have to be the huge pain you might think. And it doesn't have to mean a pain in the wallet either. The first thing you need to do is determine what type of ticket you received.
A ticket for running a red light can come in two forms. You can either get a ticket from an officer who pulls you over, or you can get a camera ticket in the mail. They are both different and must be dealt with differently.
A traffic ticket from a police officer carries points and is a more "traditional" type of ticket. The police officer pulls up behind you, turns on the flashing lights, and your heart sinks. As he slowly walks over to your car, all you can think of is how to try and get out of it (by the way, that topic is covered here). Unfortunately, in most instances, you can't get out of it and are stuck with the ticket.
No worries, really, it's going to be okay.
You have three options, but two of them aren't in your best interest. As I've written about before, you can either pay it and get points, pay it and go to school, or fight it. Whether you fight it with a traffic attorney or fight it by yourself, fighting a ticket is the only way to get it dismissed. There are legal defenses that can be used for running a red light, only by fighting your ticket, can you take advantage of them.
Now the other type of ticket you can get for running a red light is from a camera. These "camera" tickets are the latest and greatest (according to the cities that put them in and have them generating revenue 24/7) but have loads of constitutional issues that make them unpopular (and, if you ask me, illegal too).
In Florida, one of the ways the legislature was able to pass these red-light cameras through, was to take the element of points out of them. So, even if you pay it, you will not get points. That's the good news. The bad news is that if you pay it within 30 days, you will pay $158.00 (ouch) and if you pay it 30 days after that, you will have to pay $277.00 (double ouch).
Of course, just like a red light ticket from an officer, the way to avoid paying the fine is to fight it. Successfully fighting a red light camera ticket is different than fighting a ticket from an officer, but it can be done. In fact, we do it all the time.
There are a whole host of issues that can be raised with a camera ticket ranging from whose name is on the vehicle registration, who was driving, who is the owner, was the driver turning or just flying right through?
The important thing to remember is that just because you were pulled over, or received a ticket in the mail, doesn't mean you have to let it ruin your day (or your insurance premium).
Knowing you can fight it, and knowing that you aren't stuck with the points, will go a long way towards your peace of mind. There are too many more important things out there to really worry about.