More and more, we are being contacted by people who are receiving letters from the State of Florida telling them that their license is about to be suspended due to an unpaid ticket.
In most of these instances, the person calling sounds shocked and in a panic.
When we get calls like this, my office knows almost immediately what the cause is, and we begin the process of explaining to the person that it is very likely that they (or someone driving their car) got caught by a red light camera and a ticket was issued in their name (as owner of the vehicle).
I've detailed extensively my frustrations with these red-light cameras and my feelings on why these are unconstitutional, and here is yet another example. When these cameras were being sold to the legislature, one of the ways they got around the requirement that an actual police officer hand the ticket to the guilty party, was by removing the possibility of points on the license. They were presented as glorified parking tickets, with a price escalator if not paid timely.
The only problem is that if you don't pay a parking ticket (either because it blew off your car or you just thought you could get away with not paying), you don't run the risk of having your license suspended.
Here, if you don't pay a red light camera ticket, not only does the price go up almost 75%, but your license gets suspended.
I know what you're thinking. You're sitting there and saying to yourself, "Well, something should be done to people who don't pay their tickets." You're right. No one is suggesting that we create a nation of scofflaws by allowing people to avoid paying for their sins. But all of this assumes one very important fact:
That everyone gets every piece of mail sent to them
What we are starting to see are people who live in a multi-unit dwelling where the mailman won't deliver the mail if the apartment number isn't on the address, people who live in a house where mail is thrown out or misplaced, and people whose mail service is just not reliable (let's face it, US mail is not 100% reliable unless it's tracked by a signature).
Currently, there is no requirement that these tickets be mailed via certified mail or any other method that requires a signature. Until they require proof that it was received by the intended recipient, I have a difficult time with the severe punishment of taking away a person's right to drive.
There's also the emails that I'm getting from people who say they think they went through a red light and saw a flash and aren't sure what to do. They keep waiting and waiting for something to arrive in the mail, but nothing comes and they are afraid they missed the mailing and don't want their license to be suspended.
There must be a better system than to burden well-meaning citizens, than to force them to check a website and their mailbox every day wondering if a ticket is going to appear.
The whole thing stinks in my opinion. This is what happens when you let money dictate policy. These cameras were rushed through without all the details worked out and Floridians are left to pick up the missing pieces. Oh, and if it costs you an extra hundred dollars and perhaps leads to you getting thrown in jail for something you weren't even aware of, well, I guess that's just too bad for you.