A request from Pinellas Clerk of the Circuit Court Ken Burke may be granted by at least two Pinellas cities. In a letter to half a dozen municipalities, Burke alleged flaws in the Florida law governing red light camera violations.
He suggested a moratorium on enforcement-by-camera until the law is fixed.
"If [the Clerk] tells us it's jamming up his system and here are the things that are broken, we really owe it to him and to the constituents to try to fix it," said Karl Nurse, chairman of the St. Petersburg city council.
Nurse placed discussion of a moratorium on his council's March 7th agenda.
LINK: Read the letter here: http://www.pinellasclerk.org/aspInclude2/pdf/RedLightLetter.pdf
"We have a council workshop Tuesday of next week so we might have a discussion at that point…not only for the moratorium, but I'm talking about removing them if we wanted to remove them," Cretekos said.
Burke's letter focused on an apparent inequity in how different violators are penalized. Typically, once a violation is recorded and verified, the owner of the vehicle is sent a notice of violation and given 30 days to pay a $158 fine.
After that period, a $264 traffic citation is issued. The citation can be challenged in court; the notice cannot.
Therefore, Burke wrote, a violator has to risk the higher penalty before being afforded a chance to defend himself. Burke also claims tourists are unfairly penalized because the notice goes to the vehicle owner, usually a rental company.
Informing the driver of his infraction almost always takes more than 30 days, so he is not afforded an opportunity to pay the lower penalty. With the Florida legislature going into session next week, Burke suggested a moratorium while lawmakers address the defects.
However, State Senator Jeff Brandes, chairman of the senate transportation committee, told FOX 13 News "To me it's an issue of due process and I don't know how you get over these due process issues." Brandes added "I would prefer to just do away with [red light cameras]," but he admitted that is not likely.
However, Brandes predicted some form of legislative tweaking on red light cameras this session.
"The bill filing deadline is Friday, I imagine a number of senators will be working on this issue," he said.
FOX 13 News also obtained a letter Clerk of the Circuit Court Burke wrote in January to the president of Florida Clerks and Comptrollers. In that letter he referred to the red light camera law as an "unfunded mandate" that added to the workloads of Clerks statewide.
He estimated his office will handle an additional 30,000 traffic citations this year because of red light cameras.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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