Bill to allow red-light cameras dies in Florida

| Friday, May 26, 2006

The Florida Legislature has put the brakes on any effort by cities and counties in the state to install cameras at intersections to detect red light runners.

Legislation introduced by Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton, and Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, sought to allow cameras on traffic signals that could photograph vehicles running red lights. The effort never made it out of committee during the session that ended early this month.

This is the second straight year the legislative effort has failed to attract any support.

Reagan has said he understood his legislation was highly unlikely to pass, but his goal was to start the dialogue so that it may pass during future sessions. He said the bill was about safety and using technology in a helpful way.

The measure would only have allowed cameras to photograph vehicles and their tag numbers. The registered owner of a vehicle photographed running a red light would have been mailed a ticket and ordered to pay a $65 fine. No points would have been added to the vehicle owner’s license.

The citing county or city would have received $5 of the fine and the rest would have gone to fund state trauma services.

Opponents are concerned the cameras would be the beginning of a trip down a slippery slope on which police could use the cameras to photograph drivers and monitor the movements of citizens.

In an effort to ease those concerns, Reagan included a provision in the bill that counties or cities cannot use the cameras to record “images of general traffic conditions or activities occurring within the intersection or surrounding areas.”

Reagan said the safety benefits of deterrence from running red lights would far outweigh privacy concerns.

Reagan’s bill was HB259. Wise’s bill was S2614.

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