Motorists nabbed by a red light camera for right turns at a certain Palm Coast intersection between Aug. 5 and Aug. 29 might be able to have their tickets dismissed.
The city has asked hearing officers to throw out citations issued for right-on-red turns during that time frame, when a sign that warned motorists that the intersection is camera-enforced for right turns either disappeared or potentially was never posted in the first place.
Palm Coast resident Joe Freeman discovered the technicality when he got three citations for right-turn roll-throughs at the intersection of Belle Terre Parkway South and Pine Lakes Parkway in two weeks.
Freeman took a picture of the intersection, showing a sign that warns drivers that the intersection is camera-enforced, but not that the enforcement includes right-hand turns. It's state law to have a sign to warn drivers, so a hearing officer threw out all of Freeman’s tickets. The sign was replaced Aug. 29.
“I’ve traveled that route thousands of times since I moved here in 2000,” Freeman said. “I don’t know how many hundreds of tickets are being issued just like mine.”
Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon said he told city staff to dismiss right-on-red citations issued between the date Freeman documented the missing sign and when the city installed a new one, but he warned drivers that roll-through turns are illegal in Florida.
“Florida traffic law is very clear that you have to stop completely at a red light before turning right when it's safe,” he said, adding that drivers still need to be sure there are no pedestrians in the crosswalk. “That’s the traffic law. So if you don’t come to complete stop, a deputy can pull you over and write you a citation.”
But the city does use discretion when issuing citations, Landon said, and generally doesn’t ticket drivers for slow right-on-red turns under 14 mph.
“It’s like a police officer giving you discretion,” he said. “If the speed limit is 30, and you’re going 35, they don’t usually give you a ticket,” he said.
But in both cases, they could.
“We really want people to come to a complete stop and follow the traffic laws of the land,” he said.