Florida Legislature Takes Red Light Camera Debate In New Direction: Ban New Ones

Jan 10, 2014

An attempt to get rid of Florida’s red light cameras may have failed last year, but this year, one lawmaker is taking another direction—one he calls a compromise. But, the idea to essentially stop any new red light cameras from going up across the state is also causing some controversy.

Under the proposal, local governments would not be allowed to install red light cameras. And, the fine for those caught on existing cameras would also be lowered from 158 dollars to 83. Local officials could also impose a surcharge to help fund existing cameras. Miami Republican Representative Frank Artiles is the bill’s sponsor.

“The purpose of this specific bill is to eliminate the profiteering of local governments on red light cameras. If it’s about safety, let’s make it about safety,” said Artiles.

But, some worry about this latest direction in the red light camera debate, including Tallahassee Police Department Major Chris Connell. Representing the Florida Police Chief Association and his city, he told lawmakers at a recent hearing that red light cameras are a safety improvement that saves lives.

“In the city of Tallahassee alone, we’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of violations that occur, and almost half now of what we used to see. Also, our cities throughout the state have not only reported a reduction in crashes after cameras were installed, and as I said, a reduction in violations. This tells us that driving habits have been changed,” said Connell.

Still, the measure passed 10-3 with Democrats opposed of making the proposal into a formally-filed committee bill on behalf of the Transportation Department. Some opposed the bill because they said it should not be included in a comprehensive Transportation bill, and should instead, be put to voters as a separate constitutional amendment.

One of the bill’s scheduled stops could include a hearing in the Transportation and Economic Development Subcommittee, chaired by Clearwater Republican Representative Ed Hooper—who’s also a fan of red light cameras.

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