You may have heard the news about my recent successful red light camera appeal.
In light of being propelled to instant-kinda-sorta-fame, I’ve been getting numerous requests for advice and help in fighting these tickets and/or getting a refund.
Remember that the short-and-sweet version of what happened in my case is that the Ninth Circuit Court said that it thinks that it is unfair for a private vendor to step into the shoes of the local police force and decide who receives a red light camera violation and who doesn’t. That is a power reserved for the local police alone, and to delegate it to a private vendor creates a breeding ground for potential corruption.
To clarify some suggestions to the contrary: I don’t think it is a good idea to run red lights. But the police powers issue is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the problems with the red light camera programs. They don’t improve safety at all (see Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles report) – in fact, accidents have gone up in the State by 15% since the cameras were implemented – and most of the money they bring in goes to the state and the private vendor – not the local economy.
But I digress…if you are reading this, you are probably looking for advice for yourself or someone you know about what to do when you get a red light camera violation.
So here are my two cents:
If you live in the Orange or Osceola County, and have received a red light camera violation in the mail from a private vendor, you should fight your ticket.
This is because the Ninth Circuit Court – which controls Orange and Osceola Counties – has already set the “legal precedent” and clearly stated what it intends to do in every case where a private vendor makes the initial judgment that a violation occurred: they will dismiss your ticket.
If you got a ticket in one of those two counties, you should consider hiring a local traffic attorney that handles a large volume of these cases and charges a reasonable rate. Right now I’m not personally taking on any cases.
If you want to handle it yourself, you should request a hearing in traffic court and move to dismiss the case because it is an improper delegation of police powers. You will need to establish this factually either through the testimony of the police officer or the contract with the vendor or both. Also print out and provide the judge and opposing counsel with a copy of my case: Hastings v. City of Orlando.
Here is a video I made with my friends Joe Carroll and David Shaw that talks about fighting your ticket:
However, I don’t recommend doing it by yourself. These municipalities have highly-skilled attorneys representing them, and most non-attorneys will be at a clear disadvantage and get lost navigating the rules of evidence and procedure. Already the City of Orlando and Orange County attorneys are acting like my case doesn’t exist and making it very difficult for unrepresented people to win their case, even though the legal precedent dictates otherwise.
Also, a lot of people have been asking me about refunds. The short answer is that refunds are a big maybe. My initial thought was that there wouldn’t be any refunds, but I did find out that there is a law firm in South Florida that has filed a class action against the private vendor seeking refunds for people who have gotten tickets in certain cities in Florida. Right now, that case is held up in a summary judgment motion. If you have been issued a ticket and want a refund, sit tight. I will continue to post updates on my website and Facebook pages. I would also welcome you to contact another lawyer or lawyers to get additional advice.
Good luck everyone! I think this is an important cause and I intend to keep fighting the case through the appeals process. Updates to follow.