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Florida Appeals Court Invalidates Private Company Traffic Tickets

Florida Appeals Court Invalidates Private Company Traffic Tickets

On October 14, 2014, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals found for Appellee Eric Arem, contesting a traffic citation issued by a private company that installed, implemented, and enforced a red-light camera ticketing operation under contract with the city of Hollywood, Florida (the City). Broward County Circuit Court accepted Arem’s motion to dismiss, arguing that the city’s practice of delegating authority to a private company was contrary to the plain wording of state law. At issue was the Mark Wendall Traffic Safety Program (the Act), F.S. 316.0083, authorizing local governments to use digital means to detect red-light violations. The City’s interpretation of the Act gave them the authority to delegate virtually all of the process, from recording the violation to the violator’s appearance in court.

Arem cited F.S. 316,0083(1)(a) which in pertinent part states, “. . . this paragraph does not prohibit a review of information from a traffic infraction detector by an authorized employee or agent of the department, a county, or a municipality before issuance by the Traffic Infraction Enforcement Officer. (TIEO) (emphasis added). In this case, a notice of violation was sent by American Traffic Systems (ATS), a private company contracted by the City, to Arem, which he ignored in lieu of paying a fine. After thirty days ATS sent a computer generated traffic citation to both Arem and the Broward County Clerk. At trial, the county court found that the City did not comply with Florida statutes when it improperly delegated various tasks to ATS, and dismissed the citation.

On appeal, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals examined the plain language of the Act, determined that the Act expressly mandates uniformity to the provisions set forth therein, and that the City, in violation of those statutes, delegated control of virtually every step of the traffic citation process to private individuals. Based on the City’s violation of the Act, the court found that the City invalidated any claims they made in the case. See: Hollywood v. Arem, Fla. 4th Dist. Court of Appeals (July 2014). Case No. 4D12-1312.


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Hollywood v. Arem