CLEARWATER: Red Light Cameras Are Coming…..

One after another, people came before the City Council to forcefully denounce red light cameras. They said the devices cause rear-end crashes and are really just a “money grab” by the government. They complained about a “1984 Orwellian police state.” They warned, We’ll remember this at election time. This was the tone of a story in today’s St. Petersburg Times about red light cameras.

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An elderly woman from Clearwater Beach blasted the cameras as “highway robbery,” prompting a round of applause from the audience.

However, this did not stop the City Council from voting 3-2 Thursday night to bring red light cameras to some of Clearwater’s most dangerous intersections.

The three (3) council members who support the red light cameras — Mayor Frank Hibbard, Vice Mayor John Doran and council member Bill Jonson — passionately insist that it’s not about revenue, but instead it’s about driver safety. They view the cameras as a tool for fighting an epidemic of red light running in the area.

Clearwater is the fourth city in Pinellas County to approve the cameras, behind St. Petersburg, Kenneth City and South Pasadena. Oldsmar is expected to approve them Tuesday.

Clearwater’s first cameras are to be installed sometime next year. At the mayor’s suggestion, they’ll start by posting cameras at just a couple of intersections, which are yet to be determined. After six (6) months, the city will study the data from those locations before deciding whether to continue.

Ultimately, city officials have about ten (10) dangerous intersections in mind for the cameras, mostly along Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard.

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A 2009 state law allows cities to install cameras at intersections and charges a $158 Fine to the registered owner of any vehicle caught on camera running a red light.

The cameras take a photo of the red light runner’s license plate. A traffic officer reviews the image, verifying the infraction. A notice is sent to the vehicle’s registered owner. If the owner wasn’t behind the wheel at the time of the infraction, that person has thirty (30) days to file an Affidavit declaring as much.

Violators are fined $158 for a Nonmoving Violation, which means no points are taken from their driver’s license.

From each ticket on city and county roads, the state Department of Revenue gets $70, the state Department of Health gets $10, the brain and spinal cord injury trust fund gets $3 and the locality gets $75. For tickets on state roads, the state gets $100, the locality $45 and the trust funds $10 and $3, respectively.

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For more information on red light cameras in the Tampa Bay area, please check out the hyperlinked video interview that I did for My FOX Tampa Bay last October.

If you’ve been charged with a Traffic Offense or Violation, the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. is on your side.

Sometimes, the worst thing that you can do (as counter-intuitive as it seems) is pay the ticket. Paying a Traffic Ticket is an admission of guilt, it will lead to a conviction on your record, and it will often result in points being assessed to your driving record.

In many cases, a traffic defense attorney can negotiate a resolution with the Judge to avoid the conviction on your driving record. This is typically referred to as a “withhold of adjudication.” If you are able to receive a “withhold of adjudication,” you will not be assessed any points and your insurance premium cannot be increased based on that infraction.

Remember, too many points on your driving record will lead to your driver’s license being suspended by the State of Florida.

To discuss your traffic ticket, contact the Clearwater-based Blake & Dorsten, P.A. at 727.286.6141. You can also email criminal/traffic defense attorney Nicholas J. Dorsten at: info@blakedorstenlaw.com

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