Brittany Anderson remembered seeing a camera flash at the intersection of 56th Street and Fowler Avenue and wondering what she did wrong.
“I was already stopped at the intersection, but sure enough, a few weeks later I got a violation notice in the mail,” said Anderson, a USF senior majoring in anthropology.
Her ticket was one of 9,000 Temple Terrace issued in a three-month period with the red-light camera system. The city has made about $1 million, according to The Tampa Tribune.
Drivers receive a notice of violation and are fined $100 for their first offense. The fines increase with each violation and cap at $150, according to templeterrace.com.
While the tickets do not add points to the driver’s record, they may cause insurance rates to increase and can lead to a suspended license if not paid within a specific timeframe.
The driver could also be referred to a collection bureau. In this case, the bureau would take the ticket to court and the fine would be attached to the violator’s paycheck to ensure the ticket is paid, said National Motorist Association (NMA) President James Baxter.
Some think the red-light cameras should not be used.
“Red-light cameras should never have seen the light of day in Florida,” said Florida Civil Rights Association (FCRA) President J Willie David, III.
David said the cameras increase accidents and conflict with state traffic law.
He also said that in some circumstances a ticket could result in house foreclosure, injured credit scores and denial of permits or licenses, which would lead to higher unemployment rates.
Baxter said only the owner of the vehicle is fined. He also said most operating camera systems only show the car’s plate and not the driver’s face. If the owner wishes to identify someone else, then sometimes the violation will be transferred.
Similar to a parking ticket, a red-light citation is not a criminal violation and people cannot be put in jail for failure to pay the ticket, Baxter said.
Most tickets are sent out via first-class mail and there is no guarantee that accused motorists will even receive the ticket. It could be weeks after the incident that someone receives the violation notice, according to the NMA.
“People should be informed (of the citation) sooner and there should be a warning first,” said Jessica Marcucci, a USF senior majoring in mass communications.
The ordinances for red-light cameras and their ticketing are on a local option basis, Baxter said, which is not approved in Florida. The state has been silent on the issue so far, he said.
The reaction to the red-light cameras has been mixed throughout communities. Members of online social networks, such as Facebook, have created anti-red-light-camera groups, where people can voice their opinions and red-light camera experiences.
Three local intersections — Fowler Avenue and 56th Street, Fowler Avenue and Riverhills Drive and 56th Street and Bullard Avenue — are locations where red-light cameras are used. The City of Temple Terrace plans on installing more cameras around the area, according totempleterrace.com.
Drivers who receive a notice of violation from the City of Temple Terrace can view images and video of the vehicle at violationinfo.com. Violators can pay for the citation online, by phone, mail or in person.