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Drivers nabbed by red light cameras want their money back


By William Patrick - From Watchdog.org

Motorists from 65 Florida cities and counties want their money back after paying red light camera tickets that a state appeals court deemed illegal two years ago.

Last week, a federal appeals court said not so fast.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, overseeing Florida, Georgia and Alabama, denied a ticket refund worth more than $200 million. But it also denied the local governments' request to dismiss the class-action lawsuit, thereby allowing it to proceed.

A final decision won’t happen anytime soon.

The case is under review at a lower federal court in Miami, where the aggrieved drivers sued for a refund more than a year ago. Lawyers for the cities and counties went to the 11th Circuit in Atlanta in an attempt to undermine their claim.

Further complicating matters, a state appeals court ruling in July found the city of Aventura's red light camera program was perfectly fine. Aventura is a defendant in the class action suit.

The maze of legal proceedings will likely land in the Florida Supreme Court, said Sheila Dunn, communications director for the National Motorists Association. A ruling from the high court would apply throughout the state.

“Our hope is that the state supreme court will find red light cameras illegal,” Dunn told Watchdog.org.

“If they’re illegal, then the ill-gotten gains should certainly go back to motorists,” she said.

In 2014, the 4th District Court of Appeal invalidated the red light camera program in Hollywood, Fla., for unlawfully delegating police power to a red light camera vendor called American Traffic Solutions.

The Arizona-based company, also a defendant in the class-action lawsuit, was selectively determining which photos to send to Hollywood’s traffic enforcement office where the tickets were effectively rubber-stamped.

“The tickets are void and should be dismissed,” the court concluded.

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