Will Red Light Cameras in South Florida Last?

We have followed the red light camera issue in South Florida for some time now. From our posts about the red light cameras in West Palm Beach to the cameras in Pembroke Pines, the use of red light cameras by cities to prevent auto accidents has become a hot topic.

This week, the Sun Sentinel reported that the city of Pembroke Pines is now under fire in a class action lawsuit for the use of the red light cameras. According to the story, the city has delayed the installation of five more cameras.

Drivers say that the cameras are a violation of equal protection and due process and that under state law, local governments cannot regulate stop lights. They point out that the cameras only punish the owner of the vehicle, not the driver, and that the only form of appeal is through a magistrate who works for the city. Drivers also feel that in spite of the city’s stance that the cameras are being used for driver safety and to prevent auto accidents, the primary goal is to generate revenue during the current financial crisis. The cameras have already sent out over 1,500 citations which have generated about $90,000.

We noted in our post about the Obama administration that the President and his cabinet are taking a strong interest in vehicular safety and passing laws to outlaw distracted driving. Several other cities, such as Aventura and West Palm Beach, have also installed red light cameras, so the question now is whether the cameras will last and what kind of precedent will decisions in these cases set for South Florida, the rest of the state, and even in other states facing the same questions. In any case, it is likely that whether or not the cameras survive in Pembroke Pines, this will not be the last that we hear about red light cameras.