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Pinellas Clerk Asks Clearwater to Stop Writing Red Light Camera Tickets

In a letter to Clearwater and five other cities, Pinellas County Clerk of Court Ken Burke says there are flaws in the system and that his office spends too much time dealing with the fallout from violators.

Pinellas County Clerk of Court Ken Burke is asking Clearwater and five other cities to stop writing tickets for red light violations, arguing there are flaws in the system and that his office is spending a disproportionate amount of time dealing with the fallout from violators.

"These citizens are upset with the poor communication, insufficient information and resulting unfair penalties," Burke wrote in a letter dated Feb. 20 to city leaders in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Gulfport, Kenneth City, South Pasadena and Oldsmar.

Burke said a significant number of red light violations are issued erroneously to the owner of a vehicle, not the driver. Further complicating the matter is the number of rental car companies that receive the notice of violation before passing it onto the driver. Such delays can be costly — if the $158 fine isn't paid within 30 days it becomes a uniform traffic citation that jumps up to a $264 fine, Burke said.

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Burke also argues that red light cameras create an "ill will" in visitors to the area, relating the story a photographer from Delray Beach who got a traffic ticket while doing business in St. Pete in a rental car and resented that he wasn't notified until the deadline for paying the $158 fine had passed. The photographer will no longer bring his business the Pinellas County, Burke said.

"It is up to us in government to represent the interests of our citizens," Burke wrote. "When a statute which is discretionary to implement is so flawed, it should not be implemented."

The City of Clearwater operates red light cameras at three locations:

  • eastbound Gulf to Bay at Belcher Road
  • westbound Gulf to Bay at Belcher Road
  • eastbound Chestnut Street at Ft. Harrison Avenue

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Michael D. March 15, 2013 at 02:43 PM
Your agrument makes no sense. You are worried about safety, but then say lets have something that has statistically been prooven to raise accidents by about 27% kept in place. The drivers are responsible for running the lights, but it's ok for the penalty to go to the car owner? If the yellow lights were timed properly, how many red lights would be run? There are more accidents right now, with the Snowbirds, Spring Breakers, Spring Training, and other vacationers. But at the end of the day how does a red light camera prevent and accident?
Barbara Corfield March 31, 2013 at 08:16 PM
I don't think it harms anyone, other than try to save live's. When I drove for the first time in Seattle, I was in the Wallingford neighborhood, And I did see the sign that said that if i drove through the red light,,I would be sent a ticket... These things are all over the place in all neighborhoods, Cities, and States.. So why does anyone think these are not right?? Those that think they are above the Law..
Barbara Corfield March 31, 2013 at 08:29 PM
I agree with you. Speeding cameras are everywhere.. Its either that or put motorcycle police on all 4 corners of those places that are the worst in accidents. We called them The Care Bears in Las Vegas, and they were always known about through our Morning TV News Stations.. And there were always someone getting Tickets. So it doesn't matter if it is a Camera, or a Care Bear.. there are going to be those that still THINK they won't get caught..
Andrew Loomis June 03, 2013 at 01:43 AM
First, an "appeal" comes AFTER you have had a fair hearing. ASKING for that fair hearing is NOT an "appeal." Second, if your family lives on $25K per year or less, as do 30% of households in Clearwater ($10/hr), then $158 is TWO DAYS WORK. For what? Rolling a right-turn-on-red without a full stop? Rolling that red at three a.m. when you can see a mile in all directions that no one is coming? Hey man, my pizza is getting cold. If you think that a traffic infraction is some kind of "moral offense" that deserves the "punishment" of the government (and then your insurance company, too, if you ask to see a judge) picking your pocket for big bucks, you should spend more time in church. - Andrew p.s. And, yes, Ms. Corfield, we ARE "above The Law." All of us. Law was invented to protect us from arbitrary authority, to "make us free." Which is why it must always be applied that way. Freedom is what it is ALL about. So NO, computers that can charge us big money because they have "decided" that they have "caught" us in non-compliance with some arbitrary "rule," are not OK in our free country. "I don't think it harms anyone," eh? Then I am sure it is OK with you if I have my computer take video of you whenever you leave home, and from satellites, and go over your tax returns and your timesheets at work, and send you a bill for each "infraction": $158 if you "click" that money to me now, or $262 minimum if you ask to see a human about it, maybe $500. OK?
Andrew Loomis June 03, 2013 at 01:47 AM
(Cont:) The Constitution of the U.S. requires that, somehow, each particular punishment is required to respond to somebody's particular misbehavior, not just "grabbing your money kinda sorta improves safety, maybe." And then there is the Evidence Code, which, until now, required that no photo or video is admissible as evidence against you unless some human swears in court that it is accurate. Since we all know that 99% of the video we watch is wildly INaccurate, and often deliberately deceptive, why are we so in love with it here? Yes, it is SUPPOSED TO BE hard for the government to whack us, or it least it was from 1789 until . . . now? And about the last thing we need is ANOTHER complex confusing government system of laws and procedures that it takes us all day to figure out - or we can just "click" $158 into some account in Arizona. [Plus about ten other good reasons why government should back off us.] - Andrew

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