The case of the City of Hollywood v. Eric Arem case has sounded the death knell for red light camera citations all across Florida, in that the Fourth DCA has dismissed all citations because the City of Hollywood was subcontracting their citation writing to a third party company, and these duties cannot be delegated under current law. I discussed the details of this case a few days ago in an article you can find here, but our celebration may be short lived, as I'm sure the legislature will soon catch wind of this decision and re-write the statutes accordingly (we're talking about money, after all). Even after a change in the law, I still see problems for red light camera citations. So, let's briefly review how judges have bent over backwards to enforce these citations, and then how, eventually, these citations are bound to fail.
In the beginning, the focus of a red light camera defense involved keeping the video evidence out. Red light camera citations are all caught on video, so if the video doesn't come into evidence, the case must be dismissed. For those of you unfamiliar with a courtroom, we attorneys cannot simply approach the DVD player and push play. We must use testimony to establish that the video we are playing is a fair and accurate representation. The problem for the state is, law enforcement only has a few officers appear for these hearings. There is no one at the hearing from the camera company to testify about the installation, the calibration of the speed detector in the camera, or proof as to the equipment's condition (Is it in working order? When is it scheduled to be maintained?). So, the officers cannot establish the admissibility of their videos, but unfortunately, most judges will ignore the law and go ahead and play the video tape.
The defense attorney may then claim that the red light citation itself is invalid because it does not comply with the Florida Statutes. Citations must be mailed and then sent certified mail to the defendant. Do the officers at the hearing have any proof that this has been done? No. The officer may have a copy of the on line notice and the online ticket, photos and video. This is not enough to prove the notice requirements were complied with, but most judges disagree and shift the burden to the defendant to prove the government has failed to provide notice. Again, the judge is simply going to say "objection overruled, play the video".