State Court Ruling Jeopardizes Millions of Dollars in Fines

Many drivers throughout the state of Florida have gone to their mailboxes and received an unwelcome surprise – a ticket for running a red light with their image captured on film. The resulting fines have resulted in millions of dollars in income across the state. In 2010, a law was passed permitting the cameras. This is an issue we’ve discussed in two previous blogs, Red Light Skepticism and Are Red Light Cameras Here to Stay? However, the city is now appealing a case that challenges the fines from the cameras before the law was revised.

An attorney for the city of Orlando, Florida, David King, reported that an appellate case before the state Supreme Court could jeopardize millions of dollars in fines. King explained that if the city loses the appeal, they will need to return all the monies collected from the fines. The case does not affect monies collected after the legalization of the cameras. The city is fighting the case and hopes that the state judges will uphold the legality of the red-light cameras prior to 2010. The ruling will not impact fines collected after the law was implemented.

The 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach, composed of three judges, has ruled that Orlando violated state traffic laws by enforcing the red-light cameras and the resulting tickets. This decision overturns the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami, also a three-judge panel. That court affirmed the validity of the red-light camera tickets prior to the 2010 law. The Supreme Court has classified the case as high-profile.

Michael Udowychenko filed the civil suit after he received a ticket when he ran a red light. The incident occurred in May 2009 and resulted in a $125 fine in addition to a $30 processing fee. If the Supreme Court invalidates the red-light cameras, Orlando will need to refund the money to Udowychenko.

The case has been denied designation as a class action lawsuit although Udowychenko requested that classification although the judge determined the fines are illegal. This means that other drivers with red-light tickets prior to 2010 probably need to pursue separate litigation in order to receive their monies. If Orlando loses the case, King believes a new class action lawsuit will be submitted.