Don&039t Let a Ticket for Running a Red Light Ruin Your Day | Unger & Kowitt

article update: 2/25/19

Since this post was written, a lot has happened in the world of red light camera tickets. First, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in Jimenez v. state on May 3, 2018, that cities have the right to install these cameras and issue citations. as soon as that ruling was issued, it dealt a huge blow to our ability (and all lawyers) to fight them. Basically, once that ruling was made, the courts had to allow cities to issue tickets, and that made it almost impossible to fight them successfully.

Now, I say that it is almost impossible to fight “successfully” because it has always been our philosophy at unger & kowitt will only charge people money to fight them if we firmly believe we can beat them and get them kicked out. once that ruling was issued, it became clear that the courts were no longer going to allow attorneys to file motions or arguments to have cases dismissed. therefore, in almost all cases, we stop handling these types of cases.

The only exception is if you received a red light camera ticket and forgot about it, or missed the deadline to pay the $158. if that happened to you, your violation notice was automatically converted to a uniform traffic citation and you now have to pay $277.00 and you will receive a mark on your driving record. we are fighting them primarily to prevent the award from appearing on your driving record, which we can do. but again, if you have the option to pay $158, we still recommend it at this point because it’s the best and cheapest option.

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If you’ll notice, I wrote “right now” because as you write this, new challenges are emerging in the way some cities ticket drivers. mainly the ones that turn right on red, and I think they will be successful soon. As soon as that’s the case, I’ll blog again and keep you posted.

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In the giant scheme of things, getting a traffic ticket for running a red light doesn’t have to ruin your day. In fact, as I tell my clients, if this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to them, they’re doing pretty well. it’s about perspective. in fact, you can see it as a gentle reminder to slow down, take an extra 5 minutes, smell the roses, something like that.

Sure getting a ticket is annoying, but it doesn’t have to be the huge pain you might think. And it doesn’t have to be a pain in the wallet, either. The first thing you need to do is determine what type of ticket you received.

A fine for running a red light can come in two forms. you can get a ticket from an officer who pulls you over, or you can get a camera ticket in the mail. both are different and should be treated differently.

A traffic ticket from a police officer carries points and is a more “traditional” type of ticket. the police officer pulls up behind you, turns on the flashing lights and your heart sinks. as you walk slowly to your car, all you can think about is how to try to get out of it (that topic is covered here, by the way). Unfortunately, in most cases, you can’t get out of it and keep the ticket.

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don’t worry, really, everything will be fine.

You have three options, but two of them do not suit you. as i have written before you can pay it and get points, pay it and go to school or fight it. Whether you fight it with a traffic attorney or fight it yourself, fighting a ticket is the only way to get it dismissed. there are legal defenses that can be used to run a red light, only by fighting your ticket, you can take advantage of them.

Now, the other type of ticket you can get for running a red light is from a camera. these “camera” tickets are the latest and greatest (according to the cities that put them up and generate 24/7 revenue), but they have plenty of constitutional issues that make them unpopular (and, if you ask me illegal too).

in florida, one of the ways the legislature was able to get past these red light cameras was to remove the point element from them. so, even if you pay it, you will not get points. that’s the good news. The bad news is that if you pay it within 30 days, you will pay $158.00 (ouch) and if you pay it 30 days later, you will have to pay $277.00 (double ouch).

Of course, just like a red light ticket from an officer, the way to avoid paying the ticket is to fight it. Successfully fighting a red light camera ticket is different than fighting a ticket from an officer, but it can be done. in fact, we do it all the time.

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There are a host of issues that can be raised with a camera ticket ranging from who’s name is on the vehicle registration, who was driving, who owns it, was the driver turning or just flying by?

The important thing to remember is that just because you got pulled over or received a ticket in the mail doesn’t mean you should let it ruin your day (or your insurance premium).

Knowing that you can fight it and knowing that you’re not stuck with the points will go a long way towards keeping your peace of mind. there are too many more important things to really worry about.

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