A man from Pasco County, Fla., who got nabbed by a traffic camera to catch red light runners believes the camera was wrong -- both in snapping his license plate and constitutionally. On the constitutional front, Thomas Filippone now has a county judge's ruling to back him up.
The Tampa Bay Tribune reports that Filippone received a $158 traffic ticket, but he wasn't about to pay up and be more careful with the reds next time:
"If they are going to prove I was driving the car, it's their duty under the law to prove the identity of the driver," said Filippone, 45, who maintains his 2002 Nissan Altima crossed the intersection a split second before the light turned red on April 15. "It unjustly shifts burden to me and makes me shoulder the burden of having to prove their case."
Pasco County Judge Anne Wansboro was in agreement and dismissed the case Filippone brought before her stating that use of the cameras "impermissibly shifts the burden of proof to the Defendant and therefore does not afford due process, and is unconstitutional to the extent due process is not provided."
But the case is not completely closed. The Tribune points out that the traffic cameras remain in place -- there has not been a motion to remove them -- and some city officials within the county will be appealing Wansboro's decision:
"We do not agree with the decision," said City Manager Tom O'Neill, who said the city was not notified of any constitutional challenge to its two red light cameras on U.S. 19. "It would be our position that we were not afforded due process and did not have the opportunity to speak."
Port Richey city attorney Joe Poblick said officials have also notified the Florida Attorney General's Office of the ruling. The state Constitution requires that the attorney general be notified whenever a state statute's constitutionality is at issue.
City officials in other Florida counties are keeping tabs on the proceedings as it makes it through the appeals process but continue to use their cameras as is.
For Filippone though, he thinks the ruling stands in Pasco, meaning he "[shouldn't] get another red light ticket in Pasco County for the rest of my life." In fact, he is already planning to use the ruling to fight another ticket he received from a red light camera. Filippone, who is an insurance attorney, said he is "looking forward" to his April court date.