Starting Monday, drivers in Miami and Davie who skate through certain red lights won’t be getting tickets — at least for the time being.
The two cities are temporarily suspending their red-light camera programs as the result of a new state law requiring municipalities to hold their own hearings for appeals of red-light camera citations.
Neither Miami nor Davie has been able to set up a special hearing board, though the new measure takes effect Monday, along with a host of other new state laws.
Doral is in a similar position and will likely follow suit, City Manager Joe Carollo said Thursday. “It appears that based on what the Legislature passed … we would end up having to suspend the red-light cameras beginning July 1, until the council decides which way it wants to go when it begins [meeting] again in August,” he said.
Still, some other municipalities, including Hollywood and North Miami, say they are on track to establish special appeals systems by the deadline.
“We already have a special magistrate process for our code enforcement process, so we’re looking at expanding that program to cover red-light citations,” Hollywood spokeswoman Raelin Storey said.
In Miami, no citations will be issued for at least two weeks, when the City Commission will meet next and take a final vote on whether to have special magistrates hear the city’s red-light camera cases.
That ordinance won tentative approval 3 to 2 Thursday, but not before commissioners blasted the administration for waiting until the last minute to bring the proposal to a vote. Commissioner Frank Carollo said the measure should have been discussed in May, when the Florida Legislature approved the bill requiring municipalities to hold the hearings.
Prior to the legislative change, Miami-Dade motorists had to fight red-light tickets in county court.
Carollo and Commissioner Francis Suarez have other concerns about the Miami ordinance. They criticized city administrators for failing to provide a detailed plan on how they would handle the more-than 1,200 tickets Miami doles out monthly.
“Do we have the resources to actually handle that caseload?” Carollo asked. “Do we have the expertise to handle these citations? Do we need to set up a new board?”
City Planning Director Francisco Garcia offered his assurances that the city was up to the task.
“We are prepared to receive as many tickets as come and dispense with them appropriately,” he said.
Miami isn’t the only city wrestling with the legislative change.
Davie will stop issuing red-light camera tickets briefly starting July 1, but start again after the town council returns from summer recess and has time to discuss the new legislation, police spokesman Dale Engle said.
In Doral, council members decided to defer until August a motion to establish a hearing board.
Mayor Luigi Boria went so far as to propose this week eliminating the city’s 11 red-light cameras altogether. But that, too, won’t be up for a vote until August.
Other cities have managed to set up a special hearing system for red-light camera cases, or plan to adapt the process used for code enforcement hearings for their red-light camera hearings.
North Miami City Manager Stephen Johnson insists his city will be ready.
“We’re preparing to be in compliance with the new state law,” he said.