• 9 Investigates: Stepping up efforts to prosecute red light runners

    Updated:

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV has learned that as attorneys become more successful at defending red light camera ticket cases, the red light camera operators are flying in experts from around the country to testify in the normally low-key traffic courts.

    WFTV investigative reporter George Spencer witnessed violations being tossed out left and right when those experts aren't in the courtroom.

    Although red light cameras catch violators on video, very often judges never see the video in court.

    "The video's the best evidence. If they can't get the video in, there's no case," said traffic attorney Adam McGinnis.
       
    WFTV was in an Orange County courtroom as drivers' attorneys posed challenge after challenge, keeping essential video out of evidence and getting seven red light camera tickets tossed out.

    Most of the dismissals were ordered because camera operators are based out of town and weren't in court to authenticate the video firsthand.

    "The people who can say that, who can testify to that are in Arizona. They don't want to bring them out," said traffic attorney Albert Pucylowski.

    "And without them in the courtroom, nothing?" asked George Spencer.

    "Nothing," said Pucylowski.

    So vendors are now responding by sending in representatives from out of town.
       
    While there's no way to track exactly how often it happens, WFTV did learn that in February a representative from one Arizona-based vendor flew 2,000 miles to testify. And, a company in New York sent an employee to Florida for court. Other vendors have sent representatives from Miami.

    Orange County alone pays its vendor more than $47,000 a month.

    But out-of-town witnesses are a change for traffic courts.
       
    "If you have people doing work on these cases in New York or people doing work on these cases in Arizona you have to get them here if you want to convince somebody," said McGinnis.

    Orange County pays its vendor a flat fee rather than a per-ticket fee. That nets the county more than $30,000 a month.

    Most vendor contracts require them to assist with red light camera prosecutions, and to pay for any necessary travel.


    Next Up: