On Thursday afternoon, the Florida House voted in favor of House Bill 7007. The bill outlaws “Traffic Infraction Detectors” AKA the polarizing red light cameras that have annoyed travelers in the state for more than a decade.
The bill, sponsored by Bryan Avila (R-Hialeah) and Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill), has a bevy of co-sponsors including two key members from Seminole County’s Legislative Delegation. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford) and Scott Plakon (R-Longwood) supported the bill. The bill also has its supporters across the aisle as Al Jacquet (D-West Palm Beach) is also a co-sponsor of the bill.
When the speaker opened the floor to debate on the bill, spirited discussion ensued from both sides.
Those who support the bill believe red light cameras have increased rear-end collisions and are more popular with municipalities as revenue generating schemes. To illustrate why Avila wants the cameras gone, he shared a story from his home district. A woman who needed medical attention received a ticket when she improperly turned into an intersection that led to the ER during her emergency. “What is the point of putting a red light camera at an intersection where the only traffic is going to the ER if not to generate funds?” asked Avila.
When the woman appealed the ticket, citing her extenuating circumstances, she thought the city would have mercy and waive the fine. She was wrong. The city of Tamarac said there was nothing they could do to waive the fines because their hands were bound by state statute. Furthermore, the woman’s original $158 ticket skyrocket to over $250 because she automatically incurred more fees by going ahead with her appeal. Avila believes her story is just one of many that shows why red light cameras do more harm than good.
Others argued the tickets generated from red light cameras are the equivalent of a “poll tax” and a violation of citizens’ Sixth Amendment right to confront their accusers. After all, how do you confront a red light camera?
Opponents of the bill cite statistics that prove the red light cameras prevent accidents. They also believe that the choice should be left up to individual municipalities and counties.
In a vote that tallied 91 yays and 22 nays, the bill passed with bipartisan support.
In a quote to the Observer, Broduer said that “I was proud to stand with my bipartisan colleagues in defense of liberty.”
Similar bills are still under debate in the Florida State Senate.