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Pinellas Clerk Asks St. Pete to Stop Writing Red Light Camera Tickets

In a letter to St. Petersburg 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 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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QueenL February 28, 2013 at 12:26 AM
I work at a bank on the corner of 22nd Ave and 4th Street North in St. Petersburg, where there is WELL MARKED intersection warning drivers that there are red light cameras there. As I drive to work each day and sit at the traffic light at that intersection, I see the light flash at least twice in the morning and twice when I leave in the afternoon and -EVERY SINGLE TIME- it is because the drivers ran the light. The photo of the driver running the light is sent along with the citation. Imprinted on the citation is the date and time of day the infraction occured, how could anyone possibly defend that? A person in a rental car is not immune to receiving a ticket. If the rental car companies can't keep track of who has what car when, that should not be an issue for the clerk's office to sift through. Like the one reader wrote above, pay the citation and charge the person's credit card who was driving the car at the time. The clerk's deputies never seem to have a problem giving customers other bad news, why now has this become a problem for them? Food for thought: insurance companies are exploring requiring that high incident intersections implement red light cameras. If not instituted, they will institute ridiculously high rates to the people who live within a certain radius of the intersection(s). One last thing, for Patriot - I have always found that when a person berates and insults others, it usually means that they feel badly about themselves.
Rider February 28, 2013 at 01:53 AM
Queen L...thanks for the post with candor and reason....I pose a question to all the red light camera opponents......what is your plan to stop or reduce the incredible amount of drivers running red lights here? Believe me, it is extreme and one of the worst, if not the worst, area for this ridiculous life threatening practice. Mistakes are one thing but, come on, most are blatant attempts to save a minute or two. The yellow light duration should be standardized so people can accurately predict when the light will change at any intersection and the opposing red should stay red for a few seconds more, everywhere, to allow for the renegades to plow through the red light while putting everyone at risk.
Patriot February 28, 2013 at 02:16 AM
QueenL: Thank you, I can now move forward with my life.
Patriot February 28, 2013 at 02:22 AM
Rider: Pick a fight about something of value! Cancer maybe....child abuse....for crying out loud, this is a dead issue! Get the cameras out....They are unconstitutional!
Myndie March 14, 2013 at 04:37 AM
I have received notification of a violation transfer from a rental car company alleging I ran a red light while using their car in early January. Of course, I discarded the paperwork for the rental after the applicable charges cleared my account. They, conveniently cannot supply a duplicate copy. The video does not resemble the car I rented and I was not driving at the time of night the video captures the violation. They have transferred the violation to me via the city well after the fine has escalated and now I have to fight this, waste more time and anxiety to protect my license even though I know I wasn't even driving the vehicle at the alleged time. Its amazing that I drive through the very intersection just south of the rental car location a minimum of four times daily seven days a week in my vehicle but have never ever had a violation until the one time I rent a car from them...how convenient...for them!

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