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Cops Can't Write Red Light Tickets in Florida

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 08, 2011 6:52 AM

There seems to be some good news for those who fear Florida red light tickets.

A judge in Broward County has ruled that red light tickets written by police officers, as opposed to those issued by red light cameras, are unconstitutional under both the Florida and U.S. Constitutions.

The reason? The disparate punishment between police-written and red light camera tickets runs afoul of both documents' equal protection clauses.

Under state law, Florida red light tickets have two punishments. If issued by a red light camera, a person is fined $158 and receives no points against his license. If issued by an officer, a person is fined $260 and receives 3 points against his license.

The rationale? It's unclear, but the state claims that the disparity is justified by the camera process, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

Not buying the explanation, a local attorney argued that different punishments for the same exact infraction is prohibited under equal protection law, reports the paper.

The judge agreed, finding that, as long as red light camera citations continue to result in lesser penalties, officer-written Florida red light tickets are unconstitutional, reports the Naples Daily News.

This ruling seems to be in line with current law.

The Supreme Court has ruled that, absent aggravating circumstances, equal protection implies that no two people in the same jurisdiction may be subject to different punishments for a substantially similar crime.

If there was ever a similar crime, it would be running a red light, regardless of who or what catches the driver in the act.

Anyway, before you rejoice at this ruling, remember that this only applies to Florida red light tickets, and only those issued in Broward County. However, it should be in the appellate courts soon.

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