New red light cameras law could cost drivers more

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Starting July 1, drivers will have another way to fight back against cities using red light cameras, but if they lose in court, it could cost them more.

"The legislators have taken a bad law and made it worse," said Ted Hollander, an attorney with The Ticket Clinic.

Hollander said under the new law, cities will be able to set up their own red light camera courts where, if drivers lose, they must pay the $158 fine and a surcharge up to $250. He believes the administrative hearings will be inherently unfair.

"What people don't know is that the person who presides over this administrative hearing is not a real judge and they are paid by the same city that gave you the ticket," he said. "There's going to be a lot of pressure on that person to convict people in order to keep their position."

Officials in Hallandale Beach and Hollywood are considering combining their red light camera hearings to save money. Peter Dobens, a spokesman for Hallandale Beach, said the cities would handle them much like the way they handle code violations -- with an administrative hearing officer.

"It seems to be that's the way the system was set up and it's worked fair as far as we can see," said Dobens.

The new law also eliminates the violation for turning right on red lights as long as drivers stop anywhere in the turn, even if it's after the white stop bar. Drivers also have 60 days to decide whether to pay the fine or go to court.

"It's a huge money maker. There's millions of dollars at stake," said Hollander.

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