Red light violation lawsuits

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Mark Wandel was killed by a red light runner in 2003. His widow is almost single-handedly responsible for the passage of red light camera legislation in Florida.

"I promised my husband I would make a reason for what happened that night at the intersection," said Melissa Wandell, his widow.

Now the traffic cameras are under attack on two fronts: in the courts and from the legislature.

"It's become less about public safety and more about revenue," said Representative Bryan Avila of Hialeah.

A lawsuit challenging the cameras is before the State Supreme Court. Opponents say cities gave away their police powers to private companies that operate the cameras.

The Florida League of Cities is urging the court to keep the cameras.

"The law enforcement officer must make the decision that probable cause exists," said Kraig Conn from the league.

The Florida League of Cities is urging the court to keep the cameras.

In their brief, Cities writes outlawing the cameras could be catastrophic for local governments. The worry refunds could be ordered.

"If the courts require a one- or three-year return of those funds, say it's three years, its $150 million," said Conn.

Last year, there were 108 fewer cameras across the state, including the ones taken down from this intersection. But even with the decrease the number of tickets increased 27 percent.

The increase gives opponents plenty of ammunition to argue enough is enough.