Red Light Cameras
Municipalities across America have found a new cash cow…..Red Light
Camera systems are being installed at a vocerific rate all over this
great country of ours. And they are raking in the bucks.
On June 1 of this year, my hometown of Lakeland, Florida activated
9 Red Light cameras at 5 city intersections. Already, the cameras have
garnered nearly $1 million in fines.
The cameras were installed and are maintained by Arizona-based
American Traffic Solutions (ATS). In return, ATS receives a
healthy portion of the revenue generated.
When a vehicle enters an intersection after the light has turned red,
a motion sensor activates the camera and video of the infraction is
recorded, as well as two photos of the rear of the vehicle, including
the license plate number. Raw camera footage is collected by ATS, and
ATS employees in Arizona edit the raw footage and delete footage where
no infraction occurred. The remaining footage is then forwarded to the
Lakeland Police Department, where a panel of employees confirms the
infractions and determines the owner of the offending vehicle. The
owner of the vehicle is then mailed a citation and given 30 days to pay.
The first, and 2nd, violations cost $125 each. The 3rd, and all subsequent
violations jump to $250 each.
For its efforts, ATS receives $125 for the first violation recorded at each
camera, per day; $25 for the 2nd and 3rd violations recorded per camera
each day, and $10 per violation for each subsequent violation recorded
per camera, each day. As you can see, ATS is reaping thousands of
dollars each day for the 9 cameras.
From the time of the infraction, until vehicle owners receive their
citation in the mail is a period of 10-15 days. If the vehicle owner wants
to contest the infraction, he or she may do so by paying a $25 fee and
appearing before an arbitrator. So far, none of those who have appeared
before the arbitrator have been successful in getting their citations
Since the police can’t identify the driver of the vehicle, no points are
assessed for the infraction.
Overwhelmingly, the citations issued have been for right-turn infractions.
Vehicles turning right on a red light must come to a complete stop before
Now here’s the OUTRAGEOUS part. The violations are not classified
as traffic violations because they don’t conform to the Florida Uniform
Traffic Code. To get around the Uniform Traffic Code laws, the
municipalities classify the Red Light Camera infractions as ‘Code
Violations’. In other words, the Red Light Camera process may very
well be illegal. In fact, the courts in Minnesota have come to just such
One more thing; currently, the entire raw footage is not available for
review. Who’s to say all violations are being forward to the police? And
for that matter, who’s to say that the police review board does not ‘cherry
pick’ who gets a citation? For example, are they going to send a citation to
the mayor’s wife? Or the police chief’s daughter?
In the meantime, while the validity of the Red Light Camera installations
are being tossed around the courts and lawyers and citizens question the
legalities of the program, installation of new systems are going full bore.