Could red-light cameras be eliminated?

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - You may be off the hook if you're holding a red-light camera ticket. Two cases could be the beginning of the end for the controversial program.

Both cases will only apply to the respective cities where the ruling is issued, but the rulings give an outline for other cities to follow if and when they have to determine their own cases.

A ruling out of South Florida on red-light cameras could be a major road block for the program in the state. 

An appeals court ruled that the city of Hollywood can't allow third-party vendors who are for-profit to issue traffic citations.

That means if you're caught by a red light camera, your picture could be sent off to a third-party vendor. The vendor then issues you a citation in the mail. The court says that job is up to police, not a third party.

American Traffic Solutions, a Phoenix-based company, handles the citations in Hollywood and in a majority of Florida cities. Tallahassee traffic manager Allen Secreast said other cities now have to see how it could affect them.

"We're at the stage now where we are evaluating the ruling in the city of Hollywood to see how it applies to us," Secreast said.

Attorney Bill Sharpe is in the middle of a separate case involving the cameras. His clients in Brooksville -- a town of about 8,000 that collects nearly $3 million in red-light camera revenue -- are trying to put an amendment on the ballot that would allow voters to get rid of the program.

"The money -- a third of the money -- goes to the city, but a lot of the money goes toward the red-light camera companies, that's who's really fighting this stuff," Sharpe said.

The city is suing to keep the amendment off. Other cities could follow suit.

"There's not any studies, conclusive studies, that red-light camera companies keep the roads safe. So I don't know why they're so afraid of letting these people vote," Sharpe said.

A judge will be ruling on that case by the end of the month, and the referendum could be placed on the ballot in November.

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