Maitland trying to speed up red-light camera court process

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MAITLAND, Fla. - Red-light cameras have proven to be controversial, and a large number of those who have been ticketed are fighting their citations. Officials said that is starting to strain the court system.

The city of Maitland has plans to fight back against the number of red-light violators who are getting their tickets tossed out in court.

"If they contest the citation and it's not brought before the court in 180 days, their case will be dismissed," said Lt. Jeff Harris of the Maitland Police Department.

Maitland police said they weren't sure how many cases against red-light runners have been dismissed. They did say that circuit court and county court judges are warning them that it will happen more often because so many red-light runners are challenging tickets.

The courts are about to get even more cases when Orange County adds 40  red-light cameras in February.

Maitland city leaders have agreed to pay $18,000 over the next several months to fund a new magistrate position.

Driver Joseph Jackson told WFTV's Racquel Asa that he would have fought his ticket if he knew he had a chance.

"It's your right to a speedy trial, and if you're not going to get it, you should get off," said Jackson.

The red-light camera at State Road 17-92 and Horatio Avenue in Maitland is one of nine cameras the city installed in 2010. Since then, according to officials, red-light running has dropped nearly 25 percent and crashes are down 16 percent.

Police said they worry the program won't be as effective if people know there's a chance they can get off the hook.

"We have to make sure we have teeth behind it," said Harris.

Orange County also plans to contribute to the cost of hiring a new judge.

Officials said they're running the numbers to find out how much it will cost to fund the new court position.