Citizens of Tamarac, Florida are outraged after learning that the city placed a red-light camera at an intersection outside of a hospital emergency room.
An investigation by Local 10 revealed that townspeople racing to the emergency room with legitimate medical ailments have been ticketed by the automated system on multiple occasions.
Local 10 spoke to Jacob Alcahe, who said that he had shooting pains running down his arm and trouble breathing. He said he rushed to University Hospital, fearing he was having a heart attack: “I really couldn’t breathe, I was sweating, just a lot of things going on.”
A few weeks later, Alcahe said he received a ticket in the mail from a camera on University Drive, which had apparently captured him running the red light at the hospital’s entrance.
“I was just kind of scared and I wanted to get to the hospital as soon as possible,” he told Local 10.
Alcahe attempted to challenge the ticket — even bringing his hospital discharge papers to the hearing — but was told by city officials that his possible heart attack “wasn’t a good enough excuse.”
Tamarac Mayor Harry Dressler denied that the city is taking advantage of desperate people in desperate circumstances. “The city is not condoning anything,” he said. “Neither are we preying on anyone.”
Local 10 reporter Roger Lohse asked Mayor Dressler whether people heading to the emergency room should wait for the light to turn green.
“OK, it’s two minutes before my meeting. You’re going to have to excuse me. Please tell your viewers it’s illegal and it’s dangerous,” Mayor Dressler responded.
The city has issued 494 red-light violations since that camera went operational last August.
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.