FORT LAUDERDALE — Some South Florida cities say they're spending tens of thousands of dollars to defend fines stemming from images of drivers running red lights snapped by automatic cameras.
When state lawmakers agreed to allow red-light cameras last year, cities hoped to collect millions of dollars in fines, thanks to the images captured by cameras installed from Pembroke Pines to Fort Lauderdale.
But more drivers are fighting their tickets. That means police departments spend more time reviewing tapes and preparing evidence files for court, Fort Lauderdale police Chief Frank Adderley said. City commissioners think they may collect as little as $500,000 in red-light camera fines. Their budget depended on bringing in $3 million from the tickets.
Cases have been dismissed because cities couldn't prove the employees reviewing the tapes were certified to do so, officers didn't have certified copies of vehicle registrations and judges have required photo evidence the car hadn't entered the intersection before the light turned red.
Pembroke Pines has received $76,294 from citations, but the program has cost $83,337. Legal fees ate $33,189, with the rest going to American Traffic Solutions, which manages the program.
The company, which also services several Tampa Bay area municipalities, said Florida's court rulings are out of step with how other states have enforced red-light camera violations.