Two Broward County traffic judges dismissed 24,000 pending red-light camera ticket cases Monday, ruling that the program violates Florida law.
Fines from those citations, which came from nearly every city in the county, would have amounted to more than $6.3 million, with each ticket at $264.
“We made the argument that the program was an improper delegation of police power because the videos were being sent out of state for employees of American Traffic Solutions to do the screening,” said Ted Hollander, an attorney with Ticket Clinic. He said the firm has challenged the program for more than four years on behalf of clients.
American Traffic Solutions, a vendor based in Arizona, reviewed videos captured by traffic cameras in Broward County before forwarding them to local police for ticketing. State law mandates that only law enforcement can issue violations.
“You can’t enforce one law and break another, which is what these cities have been doing for the better part of four years now.” Hollander said.
Other cities around South Florida have ended red-light camera programs. Boca Raton stopped its program last month, joining other municipalities like Palm Beach County, Margate, Hallandale Beach and Coral Springs, which have put a stop to red-light camera tickets.
Fort Lauderdale suspended its red light traffic program on March 6, after a Broward traffic court ruled that it violated the statute. The City Commission is expected to discuss the matter at its regular meeting Tuesday night. Mayor Jack Seiler declined to comment on the case, saying he didn’t have enough information on the latest ruling.
Hearings are scheduled for cases in Aventura on March 30 and in Boynton Beach on April 1 and in Polk County on May 28th. Hollander said a class-action lawsuit has also been filed in federal court in Miami seeking to recoup fines for clients who have paid tickets since the inception of the program four years ago.
Last month, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach declined an appeal by Hollywood over an October ruling that the city could not delegate ticket writing to American Traffic Solutions. Since that ruling, Hollywood has stopped issuing tickets but it continues to operate 18 red-light cameras. The city is evaluating how to best modify the program to align it with state law, and could revisit any violations captured by the cameras.
“Our city attorney has indicated that changes could be made quickly,” said Raelin Storey, spokeswoman for Hollywood.