Police Officer Written Red-Light Tickets Ruled Unconstitutional

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William Lewis

One of the oldest traffic laws on Florida’s books has been struck down by a Broward County judge.

Broward County Judge Fred Berman ruled this week that police officers can no longer ticket drivers for running red lights. Although binding only in his court, the ruling stems from an ongoing legal battle over red light cameras statewide.

Judge Berman said officer-written tickets were unconstitutional because they carry stiffer penalties than when a camera catches a red light violator.

Under Florida law, camera violators mail in a $158 fine and receive no notation on their driver license. An officer-written citation carries a penalty of $264, plus court costs and a possible three points assessed against the violators driver license.

While police officers ticket drivers that are personally responsible for their actions, camera violations cite the vehicle owner who is held responsible whether they were driving or not.

The state cannot punish people differently for the same crime, Berman ruled. This violates the equal protection clauses in both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions.

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