It has been a crazy year in the traffic ticket world. The legislative session ended with a few changes that will affect everyone who drives in Florida. Some of their work was good, some bad and some just pandering to special interests. Let’s start with one really good thing our elected officials did this year.
TEXTING & DRIVING
As one of only six states that did not have a law banning texting while driving, Florida finally took a step in the right direction. Starting in October 2013, it will be a non-moving violation to text while driving. The fine will be $30 for a first offense and $60 for a second offense. That’s the good news. The bad news is that texting while driving will be a secondary offense. That means that you can’t be pulled over if the cop sees you texting while driving 65 MPH if you are not breaking any other laws. If, however, the cop pulls you over for speeding and then sees you texting, he can give you a second ticket for texting while driving. Hopefully this will be a start and not a finish to the texting law. Similarly, driving without a seat belt started off as a secondary offense and quickly became a primary offense. Let hope that 4 teenage deaths a day from texting while driving will motivate our elected officials to act sooner than later.
RED LIGHT CAMERAS TICKETS
I wish I could be as optimistic about the changes in the red light camera laws as I am about texting and driving. As you know, the new ATM’s of South Florida intersections are red light cameras. These “eyes in the sky” have been popping up like weeds all over Florida for the last few years. They are huge money makers for the cities and the for-profit companies that install and maintain them. The bad news is that I only have bad news about the revised red light camera law. The new law not only increases the fines from $158 to $268, it takes away your right to fight them until they become actual traffic tickets. Let me explain. If you get a red light ticket, you have 60 days to appeal it. If you appeal it, you will NOW have to go before a city employee (a/k/a a Clerk) who gets paid from the same city that gave you the ticket. They have no incentive to be impartial and there are no rules of evidence. This means that it is a kangaroo court that can do what they want with no oversight or impartiality. The only good news is that if you wait past 60 days, the red light camera violation becomes a Uniform Traffic Citation and you can go before a REAL judge. That is why I tell everyone that gets a red light camera ticket, do not pay it. Let it go past 60 days and then let us fight it for you.
The good news is that there is no news regarding the speeding laws. More good news is the new Slow Law. As of July 1, 2013, if you drive in the left lane and are going 10 MPH under the limit, you need to move over if someone is coming up behind you. If you don’t, it will cost you $60 and 3 points on your license. Good news for those of us who have to keep our road rage in check when someone is driving 40 MPH in the left lane.
SUN PASS TICKETS
These continue to be the cancer of the traffic ticket world. I have had clients come to my office with 5, 10 and even 20 Sun Pass Violation tickets. Most Sun Pass tickets carry points on your license and can not be ignored. The problem is that often, clients are not advised about these tickets until they have piled up. The transponder may not be working or the address that the ticket is mailed to is incorrect. Either way, it can cost you thousands of dollars and tons of points on your license if you just pay these tickets. If you get a Sun Pass violation ticket, do not pay it. Call us, we will fight it for you.