Red-Light Camera Ban Advances Thanks To Two Reps From Miami

Rejoice, everyone who frantically slams the gas whenever a yellow light pops up (AKA every single driver in Miami-Dade):  A bill that would forbid cities from using red-light cameras narrowly passed its first test in Tallahassee yesterday.

While Riptide supports any plan to ax the cameras, it's worth noting that the bill was sponsored by two representatives from Miami -- home to the worst drivers in Florida, if not the Northern Hemisphere. And one of those two reps is married to a man who's been hit nearly a half dozen times with tickets for blasting through red lights.

See also:
-- Freedom Fighter Richard Masone Takes On Red-Light Cameras In South Florida

The bill, which would repeal a law passed in 2010 giving cities the right to set up red-light cameras, was sponsored by Miami Reps. Carlos Trujillo and Daphne Campbell.

Campbell argued yesterday that the cameras unfairly target old, minority and poor drivers based on where cities strategically place them. But last week the Miami Herald ran her husband's Honda Odyssey minivan through the traffic court system and found the car had racked up five red-light tickets since the law passed. (Campell said she only knew of one of those tickets.)

Either way, the heart of Campbell and Trujillo's argument was that the cameras put traffic safety over the right to be innocent until proven guilty, since challenging the tickets is difficult, time consuming and often futile.

"We're willing to compromise the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution: the right against self-incrimination for self-perceived safety," Trujillo told the committee.

State law enforcement agencies argued that the cameras have made roads safer without violating any laws.

But Trujillo's argument has been successful elsewhere -- fifteen other states have banned them outright over the concerns. And Republicans on the committee bought into the argument.

The bill now heads to the House Appropriations Committee, which could send it on to the floor.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink