Play the red-light running camera game
Can you guess which citation will be ...
NAPLES — Cameras or no, ignoring a red light at a Collier County intersection means you could be subject to one of three levels of fines.
In a fast turnaround on an issue that elicited a good deal of public response at a Sept. 29 meeting, Collier County Commission members Tuesday will consider amending last year’s Intersection Safety Ordinance to reduce a first offense from $125 to $62.50, but to double subsequent traffic gaffes.
Caught the second time encroaching an intersection within five years and the violation will double to $125. For a third offense in five years, the fine again will double to $250.
Collier Commissioner Frank Halas said Saturday he hasn’t yet decided whether to ask for a full discussion by pulling the revised ordinance off the commission’s summary-approval agenda.
However, he said he believes the proposed fine for the first offense is too conservative.
“I think it should be higher than $62.50. If people don’t know how to drive a car, they should go back to training,” Halas said, noting that some of his fellow commissioners might not agree with him.
The lives of the visually impaired and cyclists could be in jeopardy because someone doesn’t take the time to make sure the crosswalk is clear before proceeding, Halas said.
Commission Chairwoman Donna Fiala said she wants the item pulled from the summary-approval agenda, so that there is a discussion.
She doesn’t agree with the fee structure either, but, unlike Halas, she believes the second and third fines should be less expensive.
“The first, $62.50 is fine. But, I’d like to see $90 for a second fine and $125 for a third fine,” Fiala said Saturday.
She said she told County Manager Leo Ochs as much when she spoke with him on Friday.
One of the problems is that there is a delay in receipt of tickets if caught on camera: a violation could land in one’s mailbox four or six weeks after the offense, Fiala said.
Education of the law should be a faster process, she said.
“We’re not in the business to be making money. We’re in the business of providing safety for those who are on our roads and pathways,” Fiala said.
The amended ordinance originally was drafted to revise the civil fine structure for general intersection safety, but it could well be applied to running red lights, or incorrectly turning right on a red light.
Those transgressions were addressed two weeks ago when county officials issued the first report on use of the traffic cameras in Collier.
Several intersections throughout the county now host cameras that record stills and video, should a person appeal a ticket. The cameras and program were outsourced by county government to an Arizona-based company, American Traffic Systems.
Several drivers who inched up before coming to a full stop before making a right turn on a red light, or who moved through an intersection long after a yellow light had turned red, found themselves facing visual proof caught on tape.
Should commissioners decide to apply the law evenly, and include all intersection offenses, the proposed amendment would have to pulled from Tuesday’s summary agenda for more discussion.
The item is listed as 17G on Tuesday’s agenda. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. in the Collier County Government Complex at 3301 U.S. 41 East.