Thursday, June 09, 2011

Judge Rules that Cops Can't Write Red Light Tickets

A Broward Co., Florida judge has ruled that cops can't write red light tickets because they are more expensive and create points on a driver's license when compared to red light cameras. He has held that red light tickets issued by a police officer are unconstitutional, essentially because it's the same infraction but creates a different punishment, based solely on who/what generated the ticket. In other words, there is no equal protection under the law as required by the U.S. and Florida Constitutions.

Of course, the reason most states treat traffic camera tickets differently is to avoid the entire issue of it being a criminal matter. They feel they can avoid the confrontation clause of the applicable Constitutions if they make a red light ticket "a civil matter."

It seems to me that if you have one offense with two different levels of punishment (depending solely on how the ticket is issued), then both statutes should be unconstitutional under the same reasoning. The judge had no reason to reach that issue because that was not the issue in front of him. However, it stands to reason that the same argument could and should be used in red light camera cases. In both circumstances, you have the same offense but are treated differently based solely on how the ticket is issued. That is unequal on both sides of the equation.

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