Staff recommends adding article VI of Chapter 21 of the Code of Ordinances, Traffic and Vehicles, to address Traffic Safety and the use of Traffic Signal Cameras.
The changes to Chapter 21 will add an Article to give law enforcement officers and the courts the ability to enforce the Traffic Safety Ordinance and the ability to issue tickets and collect fines pertaining to traffic safety. Implementation of an actual traffic safety camera system would be done by contract with a qualified vendor and would come to the City Commission for approval.
1. Approve the addition of an Article to the Traffic and Vehicles – Chapter 21 of the Code of Ordinances.
2. Such alternative action as the Commission may deem appropriate
The ordinance change itself will have no fiscal impact to the City. If the City pursues a contract with a qualified traffic safety camera vendor, the revenue increase from fines will be realized at that time. .
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AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF LEESBURG, FLORIDA, CREATING ARTICLE VI OF CHAPTER 21 OF THE CODE OF ORDINANCES, TO PROVIDE FOR THE USE OF CAMERAS TO ASSIST IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF TRAFFIC SIGNAL COMPLIANCE; SETTING FORTH CONDITIONS REGULATING THE INSTALLATION OF CAMERAS AT SIGNALIZED INTERSECTIONS; SETTING FORTH DEFINITIONS; PROVIDING CRITERIA TO DETERMINE WHEN A VIOLATION OF THIS ORDINANCE HAS OCCURRED; PROVIDING FOR PROCEDURES TO ENFORCE THIS ORDINANCE; ESTABLISHING PENALTIES; PROVIDING FOR THE FILING OF AN AFFIDAVIT OF NON – RESPONSIBILITY; PROVIDING EXCEPTIONS; ESTABLISHING A PROCEDURE FOR APPEALS BY PERSONS RECEIVING A CITATION UNDER THIS ORDINANCE; REPEALING CONFLICTING ORDINANCES; PROVIDING A SAVINGS CLAUSE; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
WHEREAS, failure by operators of motor vehicles to observe and abide by traffic signals has created a hazardous condition at certain intersections within the City of Leesburg which presents a threat to the public safety and welfare, and
WHEREAS, the current system of enforcing compliance with traffic signals requires that a certified law enforcement officer actually observe the violation, effectuate a traffic stop on the violator, and issue a citation which results in imposition of a fine and assessment of points against the driver’s license of the violator, and
WHEREAS, due to scarce resources and other pressing law enforcement needs it is not possible for the Leesburg Police Department to deploy a sufficient number of officers at every intersection within the municipal limits to enforce effectively the observance of traffic signals by drivers, resulting in an increasing amount of red light running and other dangerous activities at intersections in violation of the traffic signals, and
WHEREAS, the City Commission finds that it is in the best interests of the public safety and welfare to establish an alternative method of enforcing compliance with traffic signals, using cameras and related technology to identify vehicles which violate the traffic signals and imposing a civil fine against the registered owners of vehicles found to have violated the traffic signals, without however assessing points against the driver’s licenses of those vehicle owners; and
WHEREAS, the City Commission further finds that this ordinance will be effective in reducing traffic signal violations and the resulting traffic accidents, injuries, deaths and property damage, while still providing sufficient due process and legal safeguards to those who are accused of violating this ordinance.
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF LEESBURG, FLORIDA:
Sec. 21 – 70. Intent.
The intent and purpose of this ordinance is to authorize the use of an unmanned camera/monitoring system to promote compliance with red light signal directives as prescribed by this ordinance, and to adopt a civil enforcement system for red light signal violations. This ordinance will supplement law enforcement personnel in the enforcement of red light signal violations and shall not prohibit law enforcement officers from issuing a citation for a red light signal violation in accordance with normal statutory traffic enforcement procedures.
Sec. 21 – 71. Use of image capture technology.
The city shall utilize image capture technology as a supplemental means of monitoring compliance with laws related to traffic control signals, while assisting law enforcement personnel in the enforcement of such laws, which are designed to protect and improve public health, safety and welfare. This ordinance shall not supersede, infringe, curtail or impinge upon state laws related to red light signal violations or conflict with such laws. The City shall utilize image capture technology as an ancillary deterrent to traffic control signal violations so as to reduce accidents and injuries associated with such violations. Notices of infractions issued pursuant to this ordinance shall be adjudicated using the City's own hearing officer and not uniform traffic citations or county courts.
Sec. 21 – 72. Definitions.
The terms below shall, for purposes of this ordinance, have the meanings indicated:
Hearing officer shall mean the Special Magistrate.
Intersection shall mean the area embraced within the prolongation or connection of the lateral curb line; or, if none, then the lateral boundary lines, of the roadways of two roads which join or intersect one another at, or approximately at, right angles; or the area within which vehicles traveling upon different roads joining at any other angle may come in conflict.
Motor vehicle shall have the meaning ascribed to the term by §316.003, Fla. Stat. as now existing or hereafter amended.
Notice of infraction shall mean a citation issued for a violation of this ordinance, which is referred to as a “red zone infraction” in accordance with the definition below.
Owner/vehicle owner shall mean the person or entity identified by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, or other state vehicle registration office, as the registered owner of a vehicle. Such term shall also mean a lessee of a motor vehicle pursuant to a lease of six months or more.
Recorded images shall mean images recorded by a traffic control signal monitoring system/device: (1) On two or more photographs, or two or more electronic images; or two or more digital images, or digital or video movies; or any other medium that can display a violation; and (2) Showing the rear of a motor vehicle and on at least one image, clearly identifying the license plate number of the vehicle.
Red zone infraction shall mean a traffic offense whereby a traffic control signal monitoring system established that a vehicle entered an intersection controlled by a duly erected traffic control device at a time when the traffic control signal for such vehicle's direction of travel was emitting a steady red signal.
Traffic control signal shall mean a device exhibiting different colored lights or colored lighted arrows, successively, one at a time, or in combination, using only the colors green, yellow, and red which indicate and apply to drivers of motor vehicles as provided in §316.075, Fla. Stat.
Traffic control signal monitoring system/device shall mean an electronic system consisting of one or more vehicle sensors, working in conjunction with a traffic control signal, still cameras and video recording device, to capture and produce recorded images of motor vehicles entering an intersection against a steady red light signal indication.
Sec. 21 – 73. Adherence to red light traffic control signals mandated. Motor vehicle traffic facing a traffic control signal's steady red light indication shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of an intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until a green indication is shown on the traffic control signal; however, the driver of a vehicle which is stopped at a clearly marked stop line, or if none, at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersection roadway before entering the intersection in obedience of a steady red traffic control signal, may make a right turn (unless such turn is otherwise prohibited by posted sign or other traffic control device) but shall yield right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic proceeding as directed by the traffic control signal at the intersection.
Sec. 21 – 74. Violation. A violation of this ordinance, known as a red zone infraction, shall occur when a vehicle does not comply with the requirements of Section 21 – 73. Violations shall be enforced pursuant to this ordinance.
Sec. 21 – 75. Six month notice; introductory period. For the first six months after the effective date of this ordinance, unless the driver of a vehicle received a citation from a law enforcement officer at the time of a red zone infraction in accordance with normal traffic enforcement techniques, the vehicle owner shall receive a courtesy notice of the violation. Commencing six months after the effective date of this ordinance, the vehicle owner is subject to the enforcement and penalties as provided herein.
Sec. 21 – 76. Review of recorded images. (a) The owner of the vehicle observed by recorded images committing a red zone infraction shall be issued a notice of infraction. The recorded image shall be sufficient grounds to issue a notice of infraction. (b) The City shall designate a traffic control infraction review officer, who shall meet the qualifications set forth in § 316.640(5)(A), Fla. Stat., or any other relevant statute. The traffic control infraction review officer shall review recorded images prior to the issuance of a notice of infraction to ensure accuracy and the integrity of the recorded images. The traffic control infraction officer shall also verify that the traffic control monitoring system/device that captured the recorded images was functioning properly at the time the recorded images were captured. Once the traffic control infraction review officer has verified the accuracy of the recorded images and functionality of the traffic control monitoring system/device, he or she shall complete a report, and a notice of violation/infraction shall be sent to the vehicle owner at the address on record with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Sec. 21 – 77. Notice of infraction. The notice of infraction shall include: (1) The name and address of the vehicle owner; (2) The license plate number and registration number of the vehicle; (3) The make, model, and year of the vehicle; (4) Notice that the violation charged is pursuant to this ordinance; (5) The location of the intersection where the violation occurred; (6) The date and time of the red zone infraction; (7) Notice that the recorded images relating to the vehicle and a statement that the recorded images are evidence of a red zone infraction; (8) The civil penalty imposed; (9) Images depicting violation; (10) The procedures for payment of the civil penalty and contesting the notice of infraction; (11) A signed statement by the traffic control infraction officer that, based on inspection of recorded images, the vehicle was involved in a red zone infraction; (12) Information advising the person alleged to be liable under this section of the right to file an affidavit of non - responsibility, along with the manner and time in which liability as alleged in the notice of infraction may be appealed and warning that failure to pay the civil penalty or to contest liability in a timely manner is an admission of liability.
Sec. 21 – 78. Vehicle owner responsibilities. A vehicle owner receiving a notice of infraction may, within 21 days of the date of the notice of infraction: (1) Pay the assessed civil penalty pursuant to instructions on the notice of infraction; or (2) Request an appeal pursuant with procedures as outlined in this ordinance. The failure to comply with the provisions of this section within 21 days from the date of the notice of infraction shall constitute a waiver of the right to contest the notice of infraction and will be considered to have created a rebuttable presumption of liability.
Sec. 21 – 79. Appeals. The city's Special Magistrate is authorized to consider appeals under this chapter. Within 21 days of the date of the notice of infraction, the vehicle owner may file an appeal with the City pursuant to the directions in the notice of infraction. A hearing on the appeal shall be scheduled for all appeals. (1) Upon receipt of the appeal, the city shall schedule a hearing before the Special Magistrate to occur not later than 60 days after city's receipt of the appeal request. Notice of hearing shall be provided to the vehicle owner no less than ten days prior to the hearing, and shall be delivered via certified U.S. mail to the same address to which the notice of infraction was sent. (2) The following shall be permissible grounds for an appeal: a. At the time of the infraction, the vehicle was not under the care, custody, or control of the vehicle owner or an individual with vehicle owner's consent, established pursuant to a sworn affidavit of non – responsibility; b. The motor vehicle driver was issued a citation by a law enforcement officer, which was separate and distinct from the citation issued under this section, for violating the steady red traffic control signal; c. The motor vehicle driver was required to violate the steady red traffic control signal in order to comply with other governing laws; d. The motor vehicle driver was required to violate the steady red traffic control signal in order to reasonably protect the property or person of another; e. The steady red traffic control signal was inoperable or malfunctioning; or f. Any other reason the Special Magistrate deems appropriate in order to protect the rights of the vehicle owner to due process of law and to administer this ordinance with fairness and justice. (3) The traffic control infraction review officer shall testify at the appeal. The vehicle owner, or his or her representative, may also present testimony and evidence. (4) Recorded images indicating a red zone infraction, verified by the traffic control infraction review officer, are admissible in any proceeding before the city's hearing officer to enforce the provisions of this chapter, and shall constitute prima facie evidence of the violation.
(5) Unless an affidavit of non- responsibility is provided, it is presumed the person registered as the vehicle owner with the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles or any other state vehicle registration office, or an individual having the owner's consent, was operating the vehicle at the time of a red zone infraction.
Sec. 21 – 80. Affidavit of non – responsibility. In order for the vehicle owner to establish that the motor vehicle was at the time of the red zone infraction, in the care, custody, or control of another person without the consent of the registered owner, the vehicle owner is required to complete an affidavit setting forth the circumstances demonstrating that the motor vehicle was not in the vehicle owner's care, custody or control, or that of a person with vehicle owner's consent. The vehicle owner may present an affidavit pursuant to this section, as a defense in any proceeding before the Special Magistrate. The affidavit must be executed in the presence of a notary, and include: (1) If known to the vehicle owner, the name, address, and the driver license number of the person who leased, rented or otherwise had care, custody, or control of the motor vehicle at the time of the alleged red zone infraction; or (2) If the vehicle was stolen, the police report indicating the vehicle was stolen at the time of the alleged red zone infraction. (3) The following language immediately above the signature line: "Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have read the foregoing affidavit and that the facts stated in it are true." In addition to the factors listed, the vehicle owner may present any other evidence he or she deems relevant and appropriate in support of an appeal under this ordinance.
Sec. 21 – 81. Penalties. A violation of this ordinance shall be deemed a non-criminal, non-moving violation for which a civil penalty in the amount of $125.00 shall be assessed. Since the violation relates to this ordinance and not the state statutes, no points as provided in § 322.27, Fla. Stat. shall be recorded on the driving record of the vehicle owner or responsible party, and no insurer shall consider a violation of this ordinance as a factor in determining the rates to be charged to any vehicle owner for insurance.
Sec. 21 – 82. Collection of fines. The City may establish procedures for the collection of a fine imposed herein, and may enforce such penalty by civil action to collect the fine in the same manner as for collection of a debt at law.
Sec. 21 – 83. Exceptions. This ordinance shall not apply to red zone infractions involving vehicle collisions or to any authorized emergency vehicle responding to a bona fide emergency; nor shall a notice of infraction be issued in any case where the operator of the vehicle was issued a citation for violating the state statute regarding the failure to stop at a red light indication.
If any portion of this ordinance is declared invalid or unenforceable, then to the extent it is possible to do so without destroying the overall intent and effect of this ordinance, the portion deemed invalid or unenforceable shall be severed here from and the remainder of this ordinance shall continue in full force and effect as if it were enacted without including the portion found to be invalid or unenforceable.
All ordinances or parts of ordinances which are in conflict with this ordinance are hereby repealed, to the extent necessary to alleviate the conflict, but shall continue in effect insofar as they are not in conflict herewith, unless repeal of the conflicting portion destroys the overall intent and effect of any of the conflicting ordinances, in which case those ordinances so affected shall be hereby repealed in their entirety.
This ordinance shall become effective upon its passage and adoption according to law.
PASSED AND ADOPTED at the regular meeting of the City Commission of the City of Leesburg, Florida, held on the 13th day of July, 2009.
THE CITY OF LEESBURG, FLORIDA