Contest red light ticket or not? I know I'm right, but is it worth it?
May 16, 2014 6:33 PM   Subscribe

I was caught by the camera going through an intersection while the light was red because there was also a green arrow allowing me to turn left legally. What are the odds of winning this when the photos are such poor quality that the green arrow looks like a faint green blob?

This arrow is only vaguely discernible in the pictures because their cameras make a hugely lit intersection near a mall seem jet black. Downloading the pictures and increasing the exposure reveals a bright green blob there in addition to the red blob. Which is not as vindicating as I would like.

Also there is a car from the opposing traffic also turning left at the same time, presumably because they too have a green arrow.

I went back to double check the intersection and yes the red light remains when the arrow is green and both sides of the intersection have a green arrow at the same time.

I don't really have a spare $158, plus the principle of the thing gets to me. BUT it's no points on my license and with these crappy photos I could lose the hearing anyway and then owe and additional $250 on top of the original fine.

Does anyone have experience with contesting these types of things in Florida or Miami in particular?
posted by abirdinthehand to Law & Government (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you won't lost $158 by going to court (e.g., you have to take off work), then do it. The fact that there's a green anything visible should be reasonable doubt that you violated the law.

Also, take a picture yourself of the intersection that shows the green arrow.
posted by Etrigan at 6:36 PM on May 16, 2014

Traffic court situations like this often get directed to just an appellate court/judge. I've contested this sort of thing, and i took lots of photos.

The green blob in their photo plus some photos of the light being lit up red with the green arrow below it are exactly the kind of thing you want to show. Print out nice big copies of it at kinkos or something with a photo printer.

my most recent one of these was for "parking on the sidewalk", and i showed that all the other cars stuck out just as much as mine and that i was pulled all the way in. but it's the same process here at least since robot camera tickets don't count as moving violations.

I've never challenged something like this and lost, as long as i had a clear logical argument that i was doing something normal with evidence to back up what i was saying. Sometimes it seems like they don't want to totally agree with you, but also don't want to deal with someone who's actually invested in fighting it.

It's never taken me more than an hour of my time including getting to the courthouse to deal with something like this, and they always schedule you like a month in advance.
posted by emptythought at 6:44 PM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Contest it with lots of photos as well as your enhanced photo. For all you know, it's a known issue and will get dismissed easily.
posted by quince at 6:49 PM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Definitely contest it. Bring your own photos showing the green arrow with red light.

Automatic cameras are generally about collecting easy tickets. The system is not especially eager to pursue cases where the defendant shows up and presents a coherent case.
posted by ryanrs at 6:54 PM on May 16, 2014

This sounds like it would also be of mild interest to the local media on a slow day...a system that gives red light tickets to drivers who have an advance turn arrow? Sounds like a cash cow of ill-gotten means.
posted by HoteDoge at 7:26 PM on May 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I don't have experience in Florida, but I have contested traffic more than once. For your kind of thing, in my experience, if you really think you are right, and you are contesting it,and you bring any kind of evidence (blurry or otherwise) they will concede, and drop the ticket. I think it's worth it, it's probably worth your time, and you'll feel proud of yourself afterwards, and the world will be a millionth of a percent of a better place if you do. Hey, who knows, maybe they'll even fix the traffic camera to not "catch" people who are turning legally such as yourself.
posted by crawltopslow at 7:27 PM on May 16, 2014

I say fight it, telling the judge only that there is a protected left green when the other light is red. Go to the intersection and take color pictures and maybe video illustrating your point. Put the video on a thumb drive or a tablet or your phone if you want; print the pictures on a color printer.
posted by rhizome at 7:42 PM on May 16, 2014

And yes, there appears to be quite a bit of media interest (google "miami red light camera" for a plethora of reporter's names), seeing that Miami apparently just reinstated the cameras and there are multiple politicians gunning to get them taken away permanently.
posted by rhizome at 7:43 PM on May 16, 2014

My coworker managed to get about six red light tickets in Palm Beach County and ended up with a suspended license because of it. (He stated he didn't know about the tickets). Apparently, because he didn't respond to the summonses within the 30 days, they became moving violations.

He ended up calling the Ticket Clinic who for (I believe) $50 per ticket got each one thrown out.

This was about a year ago, and in Palm Beach vs. Miami-Dade, but I was surprised it worked. I always thought the Ticket Clinic-type places were ineffective.

So yeah, fight it, if you're worried call one of those ticket fixing places first to get some perspective.
posted by Debaser626 at 7:44 PM on May 16, 2014

This happened to me in Palm Beach County too..

I showed up to court, identified myself, and it was immediately dismissed. Maybe I've got one of those faces.

But yeah, contest it. There's lots of precedent for their traffic cameras malfunctioning and the signal times varying from light to light, other weird stuff.
posted by vrogy at 8:34 PM on May 16, 2014

Thanks for the advice everyone! I'm going to do it. I'll report back.
posted by abirdinthehand at 5:59 AM on May 17, 2014

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