TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida cities that installed red light cameras before the state authorized them may have to return millions of dollars in fines now that the Supreme Court has ruled they were illegal.
The court ruled Thursday that red light camera ordinances in Aventura and Orlando violated a state law that requires uniform traffic enforcement.
The decision only applies to cities that installed red light cameras before a 2010 law, the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, allowing them was enacted.
Red light cameras in Orlando and Aventura were challenged and two appeals courts had conflicting opinions.
The 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach said Orlando's red-light camera ordinance conflicted with state traffic laws. The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami, however, upheld red-light camera fines collected in Aventura before the new law was passed.
In the Tampa Bay area, Hillsborough County, Temple Terrace, Lakeland, Brooksville, Port Richey and Bradenton all installed red light cameras before July 1, 2010, when the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act went into effect.
We discovered these locations are in the clear because their cameras went up after that date: St. Petersburg, Tampa, Clearwater, Kenneth City, Gulfport, Oldsmar and South Pasadena.
"For us here in the bay area, what it means is that there's now a uniform body of law," said local attorney David Bulluck.
But Bulluck says don't expect a check to show up in the mail. If you received a red light ticket before July 2010, he advises going straight to the agency that issued it.
"You're going to have to fight for it," said Bulluck. "The people that received the ticket would have to take the initiative to try to go get that refund with this new Florida Supreme Court opinion."
Temple Terrace city spokesman Michael Dunn said he cannot comment "until our legal counsel has had an opportunity to review the court's decision."
The other potentially impacted local governments in our area all agreed, saying they were in the process of reviewing the ruling.