From time to time, the use of red-light cameras in Florida comes into the public and media attention, due to its controversial nature, lawsuits regarding its constitutionality, and different legislative initiatives from elected officials. Recently, the media criticized one of the state legislators, Rep. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami, who is made significant effort regarding a bill to outlaw the practice of red-light cameras. Rep. Campbell was scrutinized by the media and found to have herself a couple of paid and unpaid red-light tickets (Miami Herald).
However, besides these media issues, you have to remember that even red-light camera tickets can get you into trouble, especially if you decide to ignore them. If you decide that you do not want to pay them, you should make sure you hire an experienced lawyer and avoid legal problems.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles if you receive a red-light camera notice of violation,
– you have to pay the fine within 30 days
– submit an affidavit if you were trying to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle or as part of a funeral procession;
– show that you passed through the intersection at the direction of law enforcement;
– notify the authorities that another person was driving the car (provide documentation), or
– prove that you already received a uniform traffic citation (UTC) for this offense from a law enforcement officer.
While this might not seem a serious offense for you, if you do not pay or take the actions mentioned above within 30 days from notification, the county or municipality will send you a uniform traffic citation (UTC), written by a traffic infraction enforcement officer. This means that you must pay not only the penalty, but also court fees to the Clerk of Court, or request a hearing under Section 318.14(5), F.S., and be subject to civil penalties by the court.
From this point on, you are no longer dealing with just a county or city citation, but with a traffic citation that will be recorded as a conviction on the driver record. Moreover, if unpaid, the traffic citation issued may result in the termination of the vehicle registration and suspension of the owner’s driver’s license, so don’t let a small issue like this get you into so much legal and financial trouble by not acting on it. If you decide not to pay your red-light camera ticket, you should get legal advice from an attorney about the possible way to contest it.