As a traffic ticket lawyer in the Gainesville and Ocala area an article stating that red light cameras may be coming to Gainesville, Florida sooner rather than later peaked my interest this weekend. According to the article our commissioners are voting this week on whether to install red light cameras at intersections here in Gainesville. These types of traffic citations for running a red light and being accused by a red light camera are problematic and can be fought. The citations for a traffic violation are mailed to the registered owner.
The article notes a few interesting facts. First some of these red light traffic tickets are being thrown out by the courts. Right now, Florida courts are split on whether citations issued due to red light cameras are constitutional notwithstanding the calibration and maintenance issues. Second it costs too much if citizens fight. That is government admitting what I always say, that if more of us stood up and fought these things then more of us would win. The trouble is that if you find yourself having to appeal a traffic citation, the costs outweigh the individual victory.
Are these red light cameras really deterrents? What is more of a deterrent, the marked cruiser or the camera that a driver may or may not know is present? At the intersection of Archer Road and 34th Street by the University of Florida in Gainesville, the city has installed motion sensors. They look an awful lot like cameras, has that deterred anything?
One example of how this law may be found unconstitutional is if you imagine the owner of the vehicle, if the owner claims they were not the driver, has to swear to an affidavit who was driving the car. What if the owner committed the crime of knowingly permitting an unauthorized operator to drive? This is a violation of Florida Statutes section 322.36 and is a misdemeanor. Then presumably the fifth amendment would protect that owner from swearing anything? Also note how the law shifts the burden of proof to the owner away from the government. This runs afoul to our founding principles. What if we are gathering for the holidays and 12 drivers had access and the owner does not know? All 12 have to be turned in?