Friday was the first day that the city of Kissimmee held hearings so drivers can appeal red light camera tickets. This Friday the 13 was a lucky day in the courtroom for a bunch of Osceola County drivers. They showed up to fight their red light camera tickets, and many of them had their cases thrown out.
The Kissimmee Commission Chambers was turned into a makeshift courtroom Friday. Dozens of drivers challenged red light camera tickets and several of them saw their cases dropped. David Segel is one of them. He claims the father of a family member was driving his car.
Segel says, "The place and the date it happened, it was my vehicle, but I was not driving the vehicle. I was not there."
The cameras record cars and trucks going through red lights, and the city issues citations based on video evidence. The city attorney dismissed some cases Friday because the city did not receive registration paperwork from the state which was needed during the appeals process. City leaders say citizens took the time to come to court so they dismissed some cases instead of filing continuations.
A new state law gives drivers the right to appeal red light camera tickets before a hearing officer. Kissimmee spent thousands of dollars to create a mobile courtroom in the city commission chambers.
Mayor Jim Swan thinks the appeals process is a good idea. He says, "It creates the opportunity for someone who feels they are innocent to plead their case to the hearing officer, not to us as political folks, but to a hearing officer."
Segel says, "If you know you are guilty that's one thing, but if you know you are innocent, then you come and explain. In this case they decided I am right."
Kissimmee officials say the city has issued 22,000 red light camera tickets over the last nine months. If all those fines were paid, it would generate 3.5 million dollars for the city, state and company running the cameras.