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Clerk urges brakes for red-light camera violations | News

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Clerk urges brakes for red-light camera violations
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- You'll find red-light cameras, or perhaps they'll find you, at major intersections throughout Pinellas County. Six cities now have them.

But in a letter, the Pinellas Clerk of Court is now asking those cities to put the brakes on issuing violations. Ken Burke says he doesn't have a problem with the cameras, but with how the state statute is written.

"I think the process is so unfair that they should put a moratorium on issuing any further tickets," Burke told 10 News over the phone.

Burke cites this example as a one thing that drives people crazy. If someone is ticketed while in a rental car, the rental car agency receives the initial violation notice and by the time a citation gets to the driver, the fine has already been bumped up more than $100. The driver never gets a chance to pay the lower $158 fee.

At the Clerk of Court's branch office on 66th Street in St. Petersburg, the work load from red-light camera tickets is heavy. Because the process is so confusing, deputy clerks spend a lot of time fielding questions and complaints.

"We're the face they get to see, so the feelings come out to us," says Deputy Clerk Hector Esteves.

Ron Silverman, an attorney who specializes in traffic law, agrees with Burke that lawmakers need to tweak the statute. 

"There are a lot of things that aren't fair about this law," he says.

Nicole Lambert is paying her ticket today. She's in the medical field and believes the cameras do save lives by preventing serious crashes. Still, after getting a ticket herself, she says the system is not quite clicking. 

"I agree. I completely agree there needs to be some adjustments."

10 News checked with all the Pinellas cities with red-light cameras and while there doesn't seem to be a big push for a moratorium, several mayors said they'd support a move by local legislators to rewrite the statute. And a spokesman for the League of Cities, which pushed the initial legislation, says the group has already been talking with legislators about correcting the issues brought up by Burke.

Follow 10 News Reporter KathrynBursch on twitter @Kathryn Bursch

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