Officer.com Online Exclusive

Fla. Cop-Written Red-Light Tickets Ruled Unconstitutional

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. --

One of the oldest traffic laws on Florida's books has been struck down by a Broward County judge, and now, as long as red light cameras are working, it is unconstitutional for police to ticket red light runners.

Local ticket attorney Ted Hollander, of the Ticket Clinic, predicted defense lawyers across the state will now head to court armed with a ruling by Broward Judge Fred Berman striking down Florida's law that allows police to ticket drivers who run red lights.

"I think this is a huge ruling -- not only in Broward County, but I think it's a huge ruling for the entire state of Florida and maybe beyond," Hollander said.

In the ruling, the judge said it is not fair that red light runners caught by police face a stiff fine and points on their license, compared to those nabbed by the cameras, who face a smaller fine and no points.

"This violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, as well as the Florida Constitution," the judge wrote.

"To have two different standards for the same type of driving pattern is unconstitutional," Hollander said.

Hollander maintains that the red light camera program is more about the money for cash-strapped cities than it is about public safety. He believes the ruling will force authorities to decide once and for all what's more important.

"Officers cannot issue red light tickets so long as camera violations are in effect," Hollander said. "So if the counties and cities stop the cameras, they can go back to the way things were, and the officers can issue regular tickets, like they did before."

Jennifer Krell Davis, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, released a response Thursday afternoon.

"In our view, Judge Berman did not apply the appropriate standard of review. From here, we will be weighing all of our options to challenge his ruling, including an appeal to the Circuit Court," the statement said.

The judge's ruling is not binding on the other traffic court judges, but in major issues, the other judges typically follow suit.

Copyright 2011 by Post-Newsweek Stations. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Loading