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Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Presented by Tom Drage County Attorney.

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Presentation on theme: "Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Presented by Tom Drage County Attorney."— Presentation transcript:

1 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Presented by Tom Drage County Attorney

2 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Overview of Presentation:  Attorney General Opinions  What some cities are doing  County Attorney’s Opinion

3 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Attorney General Opinion Issued to Chairman of Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners Question: May a county use unmanned cameras for the purpose of issuing citations for running red lights? Answer:  Unmanned cameras can be used by local governments to monitor and detect vehicles that run red lights.  Unmanned cameras may not be used as the basis for issuing citations.  Attorney General identified the need for law change to allow issuance of red light running citations based on photographs taken from unmanned cameras.

4 Attorney General Opinion Discussion: Preemption  Chapter 316, Florida Statutes (Florida’s uniform traffic control law), provides for uniform traffic laws throughout the state.  Section , F.S., expressly preempts local governments from passing ordinances in conflict with chapter 316, F.S.  Section , F.S., is the applicable law pertaining to red light running. Limited Exemption from Preemption  Section (1)(w), F.S., allows local governments to use security devices but not to issue citations as a result of such use. Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations

5 Attorney General Opinion Discussion: Independent Observation by Traffic Enforcement Officer Required  Section , F.S., requires independent observation and knowledge by traffic enforcement officers for issuance of a traffic citation. Legislation Failed  1996 Legislation providing for various safeguards for the issuance of red light running citations predicated on unmanned camera evidence failed.  The careful drafting of safeguards by the Legislature supports the conclusion that Legislative authority is required.

6 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Attorney General Opinion Issued to the City Attorney of Pembroke Pines Questions 1 through 3: May an ordinance be enacted authorizing the city to use unmanned cameras to advise owners of vehicles running red lights? Answer: Yes. Section (1)(w), F.S., allows local governments to regulate, restrict and monitor traffic by security devices.

7 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Attorney General Opinion Question 4: May traffic signal violations be enforced through the code enforcement process? Answer: No.  Attorney General cited the 1997 opinion and provisions requiring independent observation by a traffic enforcement official for issuance of a citation;  Attorney General cited the provisions of section , F.S., as providing express preemption against local governments enacting an ordinance on matters covered in chapter 316, F.S.;  Attorney General once again suggested the need for legislative changes.

8 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Attorney General Opinion Discussion: Express Preemption Section , F.S., provides: “It is the legislative intent in the adoption of this chapter to make uniform traffic laws to apply throughout the state and its several counties and uniform traffic ordinances to apply in all municipalities.... It is unlawful for any local authority to pass or to attempt to enforce any ordinance in conflict with the provisions of this chapter.” [Emphasis added.] Section , F.S., provides: “The provisions of this chapter shall be applicable and uniform throughout this state and in all political subdivisions and municipalities therein, and no local authority shall enact or enforce any ordinance on a matter covered by this chapter unless expressly authorized.” (Emphasis added.)

9 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations City of Pembroke Pines In August 2005 City Attorney transmitted a proposed ordinance providing for:  Use of unmanned cameras for issuance of citation for running red lights;  Citations issued against vehicle owner -- not driver;  Photo images must be manually reviewed prior to issuance of citation;  City Code Enforcement process using special magistrate – not County court;  $ fine  Warning for first six months.

10 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Opinion of City Attorney The City Attorney opined that the ordinance was consistent with the Attorney General’s opinion because:  It was to be enforced against owners of vehicles running red lights – not drivers.  The City would seek to enforce its ordinance through its own special magistrates – not through county courts.

11 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations City of Pembroke Pines Adoption of Ordinance and Follow-up Action  Pembroke Pines Ordinance was adopted October 19,  On June 20, 2007 the Pembroke Pines City Commission authorized staff to negotiate a contract with American Traffic Solutions.  FDOT and Broward County advised that City could not install cameras in the state or county right-of-way absent Legislative authority.  Substantially the same ordinance was adopted by the City of Apopka in April 2006.

12 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations City of Gulf Breeze The Ordinance, as amended in 2006:  Provides for the use of a photographic system to record a vehicle violating a steady red light;  Deems the violation to be a civil, noncriminal violation for which a $ fee is assessed;  Provides that any owner who fails to pay the fee thereafter is denied other rights and privileges that he/she may be entitled to receive from the City.  Requires an appeal be referred to a neutral, unbiased hearing officer appointed by the City.

13 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations City of Gulf Breeze Opinion of City Attorney The City Attorney issued a memorandum to the Mayor and Commissioners stating his opinion that the City could enact an ordinance providing that unmanned cameras could be used as the basis for a citation to owners of vehicles that run red lights. City Attorney argued:  The provisions of s (1)(w), F.S., authorize municipalities to adopt an ordinance utilizing unmanned cameras to enforce red light violations; and  On the basis of recent case law, it does not appear that the proposed ordinance would conflict with the provisions of Chapter 316, F.S.

14 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations City of Gulf Breeze Following Adoption of Ordinance  July 18, 2005 – Traffipax and Gulf Breeze entered into a contract.  Traffipax has installed two cameras in a remote location off U.S. Hwy. 98 right-of-way to monitor east and westbound traffic for the purpose of issuing a civil noncriminal notice of violation.  The FDOT requested the City remove previously placed cameras when cameras were installed upon the FDOT traffic signals.

15 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Opinion of the County Attorney Question:  Whether Orange County can enact an ordinance providing for the issuance of a civil citation to the owner of a vehicle observed running a red light by an unmanned camera. Answer:  No. The legal distinction pursued in ordinances adopted by the cities of Apopka, Gulf Breeze and Pembroke Pines – i.e., the issuance of a civil citation to the owner of a vehicle based only on independent photographic evidence with enforcement through a local code enforcement process – is a distinction without a difference.

16 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Opinion of the County Attorney The two Attorney General Opinions correctly provide:  State law preempts local governments in the area of uniform traffic control law. This preemption includes code enforcement efforts applicable to red light running.  The only limitation of state preemption is to allow local governments to use security devices to regulate, restrict and monitor traffic but not to issue citations as a result of such use.  Unmanned cameras cannot be used to issue citations because direct observation by a traffic enforcement officer is required.  State legislation is required to allow enforcement of red light running through the use of unmanned cameras.

17 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Opinion of the County Attorney “Phantom of Clearwater, Inc. v. Pinellas County “ The Gulf Breeze City Attorney’s reliance on this case for the proposition that a local ordinance is not unconstitutional if it can coexist with a state statute is misplaced. The court in Phantom of Clearwater held that State Sale of Fireworks Statute (Chapter 791, F.S.) does not expressly or impliedly preempt the field of fireworks regulation and that Pinellas County could enact ordinances involving fireworks so long as they do not directly conflict with state law. This is not the law where there is express preemption. The court specifically cites Chapter 316, F.S., as an example of a state law that clearly provides express preemption. In the case of express preemption, Pinellas County could not have lawfully adopted its fireworks ordinance.

18 Local Automated Enforcement of Red Light Violations Opinion of the County Attorney Accordingly, as a result of the Preemption Doctrine, a county ordinance similar to those adopted by the cities of Pembroke Pines, Apopka and Gulf Breeze cannot withstand a constitutional challenge based on preemption.


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