Florida red-light camera approval awaits governor’s OK

| 4/28/2010

A long-sought effort in Florida to authorize the use of red-light cameras has moved to the governor’s desk.

Advocates say red-light cameras promote safety and use technology in a helpful way. Others point out some communities in the state already have cameras installed, but many other communities want the state to set standards before they post their own cameras.

Florida law neither permits nor forbids the use of red-light cameras to fine violators, but governments have been slow to post them because of privacy and other concerns. Despite the concerns, more than 50 cities and counties around the state use the cameras.

The Senate voted 30-7 to allow cities and counties to set up cameras at intersections and set statewide standards for the program. HB325 now moves to Gov. Charlie Crist. House lawmakers have already approved the bill.

Tickets would be $150. Revenue from fines would be divvied up between the state and the cities and counties where the roads are located. Whatever local jurisdictions pay to companies to supply, maintain and operate the equipment would come out of their $75 cut.

Opponents, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, question the claim that cameras are solely intended to keep people safe. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer says the revenue incentive is found in the analysis on the bill.

It is estimated the state could increase revenues through the cameras by $29 million in the first year. A nearly $95 million boost could result by the end of the 2014 budget year.

Local governments could get $10 million in the first year, and as much as $66 million in 2014.

Critics also say the process denies alleged violators the opportunity to confront their accusers.

The lone favorable provision is a ban on using automated enforcement cameras for ticketing drivers making a right or left turn.

A separate bill to outlaw the use of red-light cameras appears to have met its demise. It remains in committee with only hours remaining until the regular session wraps up.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Florida, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.