TALLAHASSEE, FL - Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on May 13 signed into law a bill authorizing red-light cameras as enforcement devices in the state, the Associated Press reported.
Though at least 30 cities in Florida have already installed red-light cameras, the cities' legal authority to operate them had been in question. Previously, state law neither permitted nor prohibited the use of red-light cameras. On July 1, when the new law goes into effect, that all changes.
Crist said he signed the bill, called the Mark Wandell Traffic Safety Act, because he believed it would save lives. The legislation was named after a Bradenton man who was killed by a motorist running a red light in 2003. Melissa Wandell, Mark Wandell's widow, was an activist lobbying for the bill's passage.
"The legislation provides law enforcement with another effective tool to enforce safe and responsible driving on our roads," Crist said in a released statement.
Supporters of the bill shared Crist's view that it would make roads safer. Opponents argued that it would compromise motorists' privacy rights and that it was simply a ploy for cities to raise more revenue.
According to the law, motorists caught on camera running a red light can be fined $158. Of that amount, $75 will go to local governments. The remainder will go to the state.