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Court Rules Private Red-Light Cameras Are Illegal

TAMPA (CBS Tampa) - Red light cameras have become a favorite way for traffic enforcement to monitor intersections...and send tickets to those drivers who ignore the stop light.

Now a federal court has ruled those tickets are unenforceable, reports CNet. The case involves the city of Hollywood, where a private company, American Traffic Solutions, installed and maintained traffic cameras.

The 4th District Court of Appeals ruled that since the cameras were operated by a third party, the city could not collect fines.

"In Florida, only law enforcement officers and traffic enforcement officers have the legal authority to issue citations for traffic infractions, which means only law enforcement officers and traffic enforcement officers are entitled to determine who gets prosecuted for a red light violation," read the opinion.

The case was initially brought to court in 2011 by Eric Arem, who got a subpoena issued directly by American Traffic Solutions.

He argued the private company had no right to write him a ticket. At first the court ruled against Arem, but the decision was reversed on appeal.

The ruling could have a broader impact across the state, since ATS maintains camera systems in 63 Florida communities, according to its website.

The news should come as relief to drivers who have come to view the ever-present cameras as nothing more than a money-maker for cities and towns.

Especially because the court went further in its opinion, all but ordering police departments to issue refunds to drivers ticketed because of the cameras: "Dismissal of the citation is the appropriate remedy where a private third party effectively decides whether a traffic violation has occurred and a citation should be issued."

Hollywood city officials have not yet explained how they will react to the ruling.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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