Red Light Cameras will make FL millions & turn it into a Police State
(SUN SENTINAL) TALLAHASSEE – State legislators are swiftly moving to curb red-light runners via surveillance cameras, while simultaneously gaining a healthy revenue stream to local and state coffers.
Maximum fines for running red lights would be set at $150 — with the state taking a $30 cut and the rest going to local governments who, thus far, have been able to keep the entire fine.
House sponsor Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, noted there are 368,000 red-light citations issued in Florida every year.
Only a small number of violators are caught, he said.
Reagan estimated the potential red-light camera windfall to be more than $100 million.
But Reagan and other proponents have emphasized that the bill is more about saving lives and deterring reckless drivers than making money.
The red-light camera bill passed through the House Finance and Tax Council Monday. The Senate companion was passed by the Ways and Means Committee Tuesday; the bill was amended to call for dividing up the $150 fine, with $90 going to municipalities $40 to the state and $20 to trauma centers.
Up to now, state law prohibited local governments from placing cameras on state-owned property to police red lights. But about 30 cities and counties have bypassed that restriction by installing cameras on private property and issuing fines, more akin to code violations than traffic citations.
“We need the bill for uniformity, so that we know from Pensacola to Key West that the standards will be the same, that the fines will be the same, and that the law will be followed the same,” Reagan said.
The cameras capture the license plate on film, and the car owner gets a notice of violation in the mail. The driving record of the owner is not affected.
Pembroke Pines installed one camera in May and it photographed 833 violators.
Since the March 1 end of a warning period, the city has issued 192 citations. Forty-seven of those have been paid, bringing in $5,000.
Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis has lobbied religiously for the cameras.
“My passion for red-light cameras has been to deter red-light running, so that we can prevent deaths of people and injuries,” Ortis said. “We’re not looking for a cash cow.”
Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson has fought 10 years for the cameras, also on the public-safety platform.
“If it becomes a revenue source, it’s only a revenue source from people who are breaking the law,” he said. Hollywood intends to install 10 cameras within the next four months, andFort Lauderdale is poised to vote this summer on whether to use the cameras.
Boynton Beach commissioners are scheduled to decide Tuesday night how to choose their red-light camera vendor. The camera systems cost about $50,000 per intersection and vendors are paid off over time with a cut from each fine. A University of South Florida study says the cameras increase crashes, particularly rear-end collisions because fearing a collision, a driver will stop short as the driver behind speeds up to beat the light.