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Red-light camera ticket refund case heard by Supreme Court

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Updated: 11/10/2013 8:24 pm
ORLANDO, Fla.  (WFTV) -- Drivers who ran a red light before 2010 and were given a ticket may be entitled to a refund. 

Lawyers from both sides spent the day in front of the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee making arguments over those refunds.

It started because of a ticket given to one man in Orlando. 

His ticket is from 2009 a year before the state legislature approved the use of red-light cameras. 

The question is if Orlando acted too soon and will that cost cities millions of dollars already collected.

"If there is dispute on a statute there is case law that it falls on both sides," Justice Barbara Pariente of the Florida Supreme Court said. 

Thursday's debate between lawyers and judges could end up granting drivers who have been issued red-light camera tickets their money back. 

"Their penalties (are) draconian compared (to) the state penalties," Jason Weisser, a lawyer representing the driver said.

Eyewitness News has covered crashes caused by central Florida drivers running red lights. 

Since 2008 Orlando and other cities began handing out fines based on local ordinances that backed red-light cameras, two years before the state legislature approved the move in 2010. 

Lawyers for drivers argued the discrepancy is unfair, citing state law requires uniform traffic law enforcement. 

"So that if a driver is traveling from Tallahassee, from Monroe County, the laws will be the same, the application will be the same," Weisser said. 

Lawyers for the city of Orlando argued that they did have the power to set up their own fines.

"Just because it is different doesn't mean it's conflict," lawyer David King for the city of Orlando said. 

The argument is that there is a conflict. Some local red-light camera ordinances impose higher fines than the state does.

"If we find there are penalties more severe, isn't that reason to invalidate the ordinances?" Pariente said. 

That's the debate. One district court said yes but another district court said no, which is why this has gone all the way to the Supreme Court.

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