Drivers have deja vu when red-light camera tickets get new life

Brent Kaplan paid fee to have case dismissed, but still got new court summons

TAMARAC, Fla. – It's the rolling stop that will not stop rolling up on Brent Kaplan.

"I think I was going to look for a job that day," he said. Way back in 2016, a red-light camera recorded Kaplan making at right turn at Commercial Boulevard and Florida's Turnpike in Tamarac.

"It was so long ago," he said.

The $263 ticket eventually arrived in the mail -- a ticket Kaplan thought he'd taken care of after going to Broward County Court and paying a fee to have the ticket dismissed.

But several weeks ago, Kaplan received another summons in the mail.

"I thought it was another ticket," he said.

He contacted the clerk's office for more information and found out the summons was for the ticket he received back in 2016. 

"I'm, like, 'What? I've already taken care of this. How can this be happening to me?'" he said.

The Leave it to Layron team learned Kaplan wasn't the only one re-ticketed.

Attorney Ted Hollander, a partner with the Ticket Clinic law firm, said many of his clients' cases -- most dating back years and had been dismissed -- were also being reset for court.

"From our perspective, it's a waste of resources because we've already been to court on these cases," Hollander said.

After a number of different red light tickets were issued in a number of cities, those cases were dismissed in Broward County Court, which found the tickets were improperly issued under Florida law.

The Fourth District Court of Appeals agreed. In a 2014 ruling, the court ruled:

"Florida law does not grant the City any authority to delegate to a private third-party vendor the ability to issue uniform traffic citations. Only the City's law enforcement officers…have the authority to issue such citations. The city also lacks the lawful authority to outsource to a third-party vendor the ability to make the initial review of the computer images of purported violations."

But the lower courts' rulings were reversed by the Florida Supreme Court which interpreted things quite differently. In its ruling, the state's highest court found:

"The Legislature has expressly authorized local governments to allow traffic enforcement officers to issue citations for traffic infractions captured by red light cameras." The court also held that state law gives local governments the ability to "contract with a private third-party vendor to review and sort information from red light cameras, in accordance with written guidelines provided by the local government."

The Florida Supreme Court's ruling meant all those dismissed red-light camera cases had to be reopened -- some 20,000 cases in Broward County alone.

"In the interest of economy, and judicial economy in moving cases forward, the cities agreed to dismiss many of the old cases," Hollander said.

According to the administrative traffic judge in Broward County, 600 hearings a day were scheduled to clear the backlog. At last check, 14,000 tickets and counting had been thrown out. 

We checked in with Kaplan after his court date and learned his dismissed ticket had been dismissed, again.

About the Author:

Layron Livingston made the move from Ohio's Miami Valley to Miami, Florida, to join the Local 10 News team.