By Jacek Stramski

The Supreme Court’s joint opinion issued Thursday in Masone v City of Aventura (SC12-644) and City of Orlando v. Udowychenko (SC12-1471) invalidated the municipal red light traffic camera enforcement systems set up by ordinance in those cities. The ordinances that established the enforcement systems, enacted before the effective date of Ch. 2010-80, Laws of Fla. (which expressly permits use of traffic camera equipment for local enforcement of traffic light laws, provided that specific conditions are met), were challenged on the basis that they were preempted by state law.

In a 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court agreed that these local ordinances were preempted. The Court recognized that municipalities have broad home rule powers and that section 316.008(1)(w), Fla. Stat. (2008) granted local governments the authority for “[r]egulating, restricting, or monitoring traffic by security devices.” However, that provision did not authorize local governments to implement systems for enforcing red light infractions separate from the Uniform Traffic Control Law in chapter 316, Fla. Stat., as state law provided that “[t]he provisions of [chapter 316] shall be applicable and uniform throughout this state and in all political subdivisions and municipalities therein, and no local authority shall enact or enforce any ordinance on a matter covered by this chapter unless expressly authorized.” Section 316.007, Fla. Stat. (2008). Additionally, section 318.121, Fla. Stat. (2008) provided that “[n]otwithstanding any general or special law, or municipal or county ordinance, additional fees, fines, surcharges, or costs other than the court costs and surcharges assessed under s. 318.18(11), (13), and (18) may not be added to the civil traffic penalties assessed in this chapter.”

The Court therefore held that because the comprehensive traffic safety statutes in chapters 316 and 318 already provided for the enforcement of red light laws and because no statute expressly authorized local governments to establish separate enforcement procedures with respect to red lights, both local enforcement systems were preempted by state law.

Court Rules on Local Red-light Camera Ordinances

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