Gainesville Personal Injury, Divorce and Alimony Attorney

Waldo & Lawtey Florida – the Two and Only Speed Traps

According to AAA, Waldo, Florida and Lawtey, Florida are “Traffic Traps”, more commonly referred to as speed traps. AAA lists two speed traps in the entire country and they happen to be Waldo and Lawtey. Both towns count on people just paying the ticket instead of hiring a traffic ticket lawyer. 

The towns of Waldo and Lawtey are only separated by about 20 miles on US 301. Waldo is in Alachua County and Lawtey is in Bradford County. Both Waldo and Lawtey have school zones, which are very short and less than obviously marked. Many motorists call looking for a traffic lawyer after receiving a citation or ticket for speeding in a school zone in both cities. The Waldo southbound school zone can be particularly challenging to obey for people unfamiliar with the area.

Florida’s trial level court for a traffic tickets or other infractions is the County Court. Waldo and Lawtey do not have their own court system. Traffic citation cases are handled by the Alachua and Bradford County Court. (see my past blog).  Officers from Waldo or Lawtey have to travel to attend traffic court. If they cannot make it to court, then the traffic ticket is dismissed.

The office handles all traffic cases. No matter what kind of traffic case, click or call to hire a lawyer.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Since the publishing of this blog Waldo disbanded its police department, however, Lawtey is going strong in Bradford County.

Amendments to the Red Light Camera law, the “Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Program”

Amendments to the red light camera law named, the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Program, which authorize the use of red light cameras to issue a notice of violation, will go into effect on July 1, 2013. A person accused of running a red light by a red light camera will first receive a “Notice of Violation”. If the notice is ignored, then eventually a uniform traffic citation charging violation of a traffic control device, violation of a traffic signal device, or running a red light will be issued and delivered via certified mail. 

Before, July 1, if you wanted to deny the accusation of running the red light, or wanted to challenge this notice in court, until now you had no choice but to do nothing and wait. Now however, an accused can request a hearing. The Department of highway Safety and Motor vehicles is charged with providing a form. These hearings are authorized to be conducted by the municipality. The new law also removes the formal requirements of the evidence code and of course the courts.

The amendments to the red light camera law also provide more time to pay from the date of the notice of violation is issued. The law still contains the provision that a person is not supposed to be cited if they are turning right but then the legislature added new language more detailed language about what types of actions in making the right turns may not be cited. That language appears somewhat contradictory.

If you or a loved one has received a notice of violation or a uniform traffic citation please click or call today to hire a Florida traffic lawyer today.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian in Florida

Failure to yield to pedestrian is a moving violation in Florida. section 316.130. A recent article in the Gainesville Sun detailed the Pedestrian High Visibility Enforcement program conducted by the Gainesville Police Department.

Essentially two plain clothes police officers acting in 5 to 10 minute intervals step onto the crosswalk. If the driver fails to yield then an officer ahead is radioed and told which vehicle to stop. The officer will direct the driver to a staging area where the driver will be cited for violation of failure to yield to pedestrians. According to the article, Gainesville Police will conduct several more enforcement programs or stings (my word) near area schools. Given that I just blogged about a similar “education” operation regarding the Move Over Law, I guess we can expect more of these actions from our government. 

I am sure that eventually arrests will be made from stops generated by this enforcement program. Many traffic stops generate arrests for drugs, marijuana cocaine, driving while under the influence or DUI, suspended licenses etc. In other words, this is a way for the police to not only “educate” the public but to arrest people for drugs, license issues or DUI. The City of Gainesville also receives 50.8% of the total amount collected minus $2.00. Florida Statutes section 318.21.

To require a driver to yield, the law requires that the pedestrian be in the same half of the roadway as the vehicle or so close so as to be in danger. The law also specifically states that “[n]o pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.” The last time Gainesville, or Gainesville Police, conducted a similar enforcement program several people called my office claiming the officers were suddenly leaving the curb making it impossible to yield. If you cannot come to court to testify the rules allow you to submit an affidavit.  The burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt is still on the government.

If you or a loved one has been caught up in this or any other enforcement program or arrested from a traffic stop and want to hire an attorney then please click or call today.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

The Move Over Law Traffic Tickets

The Florida Move Over Law requires that a driver move over or slow down to 20 miles per hour under the speed limit when approaching an authorized emergency vehicle that is using any visual signals and is parked on the side of the road, or a wrecker displaying amber or flashing lights that is performing a recovery or loading on the roadside, or sanitation vehcile peforming its function.

Currently, the law does not require that officers be engaged in a traffic stop or any other job function, only wreckers have to be loading. What the Florida Highway Patrol did in South Florida was place an SUV inside of a state park with lights on. When drivers failed to either move over or decrease their speed as the law requires, the drivers were pulled into a staging area and cited. This pattern was repeated here in North Florida, according to people cited for a move over violation that hired the firm to defend their their traffic tickets.

The Highway Patrol refers to this as driver awareness or education. Obviously, if law enforcement are not engaged in a traffic stop and merely parking a vehicle on the side of the road with lights on, then they are trying to cite people for a violation of the Move Over Law. This is what the government calls law enforcement or education and some citizens call entrapment. What most people do not realize is that a trooper does not have to be engaged in any job function for the Move Over Law to apply.

Many times a citation of the Move Over Law can be defended and even if it cannot, a lawyer familiar with the procedure and rules of evidence can achieve a good result.  Obviously, the best bet is to move over or slow down, as the law requires upon approaching an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance, tow truck or law enforcement.  However, if it is too late for that and a citation for failure to move over has been issued then click, call or fill out the form to hire a traffic defense attorney.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Take a Notice of Violation of the Red Light Camera to Court

Many people contact me about the Dunnellon red light camera as soon as they receive a notice of violation. The red light camera system was put in place supposedly for traffic safety. A driver is not supposed to be issued a notice of violation of the red light if the driver was turning right at the time.  If you are to be accused of running a red light the first listed owner of the vehicle will get a notice of violation in the mail. 

If you have received a notice of violation issued by a red light camera, then the only way to challenge this violation is to take your case to court. According to the paperwork issued by American Traffic Solutions (“ATS”), the company responsible for maintaining the red light camera, the only way to do this is to do nothing. That is because in order to fight your red light camera notice of violation you have to do so in court, and in order to get to court you must have a uniform traffic citation. ATS states in their paperwork that they will not issue a citation unless you ignore their notice of violation. So to go to court, initially ignore the notice.

If you have received a notice of violation and wish to challenge the violation you must then ignore the notice from ATS and wait until you receive a traffic citation. Once you have a traffic citation your case will be forwarded to the Clerk of Court. The Clerk will assign a court case number. It is at this point that you can have your day in court. The documents ATS sends will inform you that the process of issuing a uniform traffic citation can take two (2) months.

If you have received a notice of violation at a red light camera and call into the firm, I will tell you that you have to ignore the notice of violation and wait to receive a uniform traffic citation in order to fight your case in court. Once your case is in the courthouse that is where an attorney can help fight your ticket. If you or a loved one has received a notice of violation or has ignored the notice and now has received a traffic citation click or call today to discuss your case.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Stop for Flashing Bright Lights.

In recent years, law enforcement began seizing people for flashing bright lights accusing people of supposedly warning drivers about the presence of police or troopers on the road ahead. The question was whether a driver could flash lights at another driver.

A new traffic law went into effect on January 1, 2013 that essentially says that drivers may now flash their lights to communicate to other drivers. You may have seen this while driving down the interstate the flashing is used to warn other drivers headed the opposite direction of law enforcement ahead. Of course, it is also used as a means of communication to let you know that the driver doing the flashing wants to pass, or that the driver ahead may move, or an acknowledgement of another driver, or it is done by accident.

Of course, law enforcement will always take the dimmest view of the intent behind the flashing of the bright lights. This law was actually needed because law enforcement was citing people for interfering with a legal duty which is a crime. The counter argument being that First Amendment rights should protect you from saying “hey watch out, there is an officer up there”. Now, it is codified in the Statue, so flash away if you are so inclined.

Many times a traffic stop will lead to a drug possession case or worse.  Therefore, these stops like all others could lead to more sever consequences. If you or a loved one has a criminal case from a stop for flashing bright lights or otherwise needs help with any traffic ticket or criminal case, then click, call or fill out the form today.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

What if You Forgot to Pay Your Traffic Ticket?

What happens when you forget to pay your traffic ticket? A new traffic law went into effect on January 1, 2013 that changed what can happen if a person forgets to pay or otherwise act upon the traffic ticket or citation. Under former law, once 30 days passed, the driver would be convicted or adjudicated, points were assessed and the license was suspended and that was it.

Just about the only way to do anything was to pay the citation and pay the reinstatement fee to have the license reinstated. A Motion to withhold or remove points could always be filed; however, whether to even address the case used to be exclusively at the discretion of the court. Whether a hearing was granted was somewhat by luck of the draw.

Now, so long as it is within 180 days from the citation, the driver can request a hearing. The Clerk has to set a hearing. This means that whether the accused gets their day in court is no longer up to the judge.  A person can request and get a hearing up to 180 days from the violation, regardless of whether the license was suspended for failure to pay a ticket. The final order still remains up to the judge but at least there is a chance by having a hearing that is required by statute. The late fee still has to be paid; however, there is a better chance at getting no points simply because of the entitlement to a hearing.  The driver gets to take their shot, instead of hoping to take a shot.

Ipon receiving a citation, the best course of action is to do something within 30 days. However, if the defendant forgot to pay or act upon the ticket, now the court has to provide a hearing. If you or a loved one forgot to pay a ticket and is asking “now what?” or you otherwise need help either to request or conduct a hearing click, call or fill out the form today.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Red Light Camera Violations

Red light cameras and traffic tickets for red light camera violations are becoming more prevalent. It seems that every month there are more phone calls from people who receive a notice of violation on a red light camera.

Sometimes, people call claiming that they were turning right at the red light. Although there is a general requirement to stop at all red lights, after stopping you may make a right hand turn, unless otherwise prohibited by a sign or other traffic control device at the intersection. That is why the law allowing for red light cameras specifically says that “a traffic citation may not be issued for failure to stop at a red light if the driver is making a right hand turn.”

A driver who has been issued a notice of violation from a red light camera and wants to fight it, must take it to court. To have a day in court, follow the instructions on the notice. Most of the notices instruct to do nothing. After doing nothing, the government will mail the accused a citation. The potential fine will be increased. However, upon the issuance of a citation, the case can be argued in court. However, as stated in the Dunnellon red light camera blog, in court there have been problems with the evidence needed to impose a fine and red light camera cases are being dismissed across the state. This of course does not mean that the government will not eventually fix the problem.

Once the citation is received, please click, call or fill out the form today to hire a traffic ticket lawyer.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Dunnellon, Florida Red Light Camera Citations

I finally got to litigate the Dunnellon red Light Camera; after what feels like an eternity of fielding calls a resident finally issued a challenge to the government. The Dunnellon red light camera case was dismissed. Fighting the red light camera ticket was worth it because the government is lacking a very necessary step. I am not going to say what they are missing. If the Dunnellon officer in court was paying attention, they know why the case was dismissed. I urge all of you issued a citation from a red light camera in Dunnellon, Florida to fight back.

Several people have challenged the red citations issued from red light cameras across the state. Recently the Fourth District Court of Appeals held that the statutory scheme does not violate the Equal Protection clause of the United States and Florida Constitutions because ‘owners’ of vehicles are a different class of citizens than ‘drivers’ of vehicles. My constitutional arguments were going to be different as I actually agree that the driver is not necessarily the owner.

I still feel that the violation is of the fifth and fourteenth amendment and not of the equal protection clause. For example if you allow a fourteen year old to drive, you have committed the criminal offense of allowing an unauthorized minor to drive. The statutory scheme of the red light cameras requires that, in order to avoid the citation, you must file a sworn statement which could be in direct violation of the constitution. The shifting of the burden from the government to the citizen is fraught with problems and is why the government is supposed to prove its case against you and not the other way around.

If you have been issued a citation in Dunnellon for a red light camera violation or any other traffic ticket or criminal case click or call today for a consultation.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Why hire a traffic lawyer instead of making a traffic school election?

Why hire a traffic ticket defense attorney when I can just choose school to have points removed? One reason is that you only have five (5) times in your life to elect traffic school. If this is your first ever citation, then why burn an election? Save it. If you received two or more citations, then most of the time the only way to have points removed entirely is to take your cases to court.

Because you can only choose school five (5) times, the DHSMV has to track those elections for the life of the driver.  This means that a citation where school is elected actually stays on the driver’s history longer than if the Court withholds points.  According to the DHSMV, a school election stays on the record for 75 years, just like a DUI.

Another reason to fight your ticket is that the only way to have your traffic ticket or citation dismissed, or to not be on the record is to choose to have a contested hearing or trial and be found not guilty. If there is no hearing, the traffic case will never be dismissed.  It sounds crazy but several attorneys will take your money and never attend or send anyone to court. There is no reason to hire a law firm if an attorney will not be present in court.

A driver not licensed in Florida should also be aware that the laws of the licensing state may require an amendment such as a reduction in speed in order to maintain the driving privilege. Several drivers ensnared in the changing speed limit zones in Waldo, Florida come across this issue.  Furthermore, many states do not recognize the election of school to remove points and require a court’s order instead of the driver’s election to honor the removal of points.  CDL drivers do not have a school election and should never go it alone.

To hire a traffic ticket defense lawyer, click, call or fill out the form.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529