Pinellas County Clerk of Court Ken Burke is asking St. Petersburg 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 inSt. Petersburg, Clearwater, 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.
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."
In St. Petersburg, Mayor Bill Foster last week put a red light camera expansion project in St. Petersburg "on hold" after concerns that yellow lights at intersections in the city are too short. The city had been planning to add nine cameras, increasing from 22 to 31.
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