The Florida Supreme Court is currently reviewing red-light cameras that have been installed in cities before a state law authorized the implementation. If Florida’s Supreme Court accepts the argument that they were collected illegally, the cities might have to pay back millions of dollars in fines.
A recent article of the Tampa Tribune explores the case in further detail:
A Florida law requiring uniform traffic law enforcement wouldn’t have allowed a separate fine system set up by cities that were using red-light cameras before the Legislature passed a law allowing the devices in 2010…
Cities can’t implement their own set of fines outside of state law, said one of the attorneys, Jason Weisser. In the case of an Orlando ordinance, he added, the penalties – such as the revocation of locally issued business permits and licenses if fines aren’t paid – exceed what the state allows for running red lights, Weisser said.
He also noted that the Orlando ordinance called for a $250 fine for a third offense when the state fine would be $125. The ordinances also deviated from state law because they applied to the vehicle owner and not the driver, he said.
Lawyers for the cities defended the use of the cameras, saying that the fines were not being issued based on the state traffic laws. They described the use of the cameras as a separate parallel system.
It didn’t appear that Justice Charles Canady was buying the case. He said state law clearly spells out that cities can’t institute their own traffic rules.
Justice Barbara Pariente indicated her concern was not so much whether the cities used the cameras to fine people running red lights, but rather whether municipal fines exceed fines allowed under state law.