(WSVN) - She got a red light camera ticket and decided to pay it and not fight it, but instead of the city cashing her payment, they returned it and asked her for more money. Can a city reject your payment? It’s tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Remember before COVID? When people had normal lives?

Amy Seidman, paid citation: “I was having my high school reunion, and I went down there to meet the girls.”

Amy was meeting them in Aventura and made a left hand turn into the mall right behind this bus. She would later find out she had run a red light.

Amy Seidman: “I was surprised to see it in the mail. I knew it was my car. I just wouldn’t normally run a red light. It’s not in my nature.”

As Amy looked at the video, she thought about fighting the $158 ticket.

Amy Seidman: “And then, I’m talking to my ex who’s had a lot of tickets throughout the years. He’s like, ‘It’s not worth it, just pay it.'”

Amy went online, and her bank sent the city the check.

Amy Seidman: “I believe it was a PO Box check made out to the City of Aventura. I did get a confirmation from the bank that it was sent.”

Everything was fine until a couple of weeks later.

Amy Seidman: “I received a letter from Miami-Dade County saying that my ticket had been unpaid, and now, I had additional fees.”

You won’t believe this. The notice that she had not paid the ticket came with the check to pay the ticket attached.

Amy Seidman: “So, I had my check sent back to me uncashed, along with a notice that I had another $125 added to it for non-payment.”

Now, instead of owing $158, Amy was told she owed $277.

Amy Seidman: “I’m really unhappy because I knew I had done my due diligence to pay it.”

Amy didn’t fight paying the first time. Now, she was ready for a fight.

Amy Seidman: “I think they screwed up.”

Well Howard, you have said government agencies can make a mistake and not pay the consequences. If they did in this case, does Amy have to pay twice for one ticket?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “No, while the city does not have to pay for their mistake, they cannot make her pay for a mistake if they made it, so if they did, she doesn’t have to pay the second fine, just the original red light fine.”

Election Day has passed, but look at what’s left behind: thousands and thousands of signs on public property. Howard, who is responsible for removing them?

Howard Finkelstein: “Under state law, the candidate has 30 days to remove the signs, and some cities require it to be done even quicker.”

And what if they don’t? What can be done?

Howard Finkelstein: “If they don’t remove it, the city or county can pick the signs up and then bill the candidate, but realistically, they don’t do that to politicians, and either the nearby residents or government workers are left to take care of the mess.”

A question about contracts that automatically renew. A viewer said a software company renewed her service and she wasn’t told. Can a business renew the contract without your approval?

Howard Finkelstein: “In Florida, there is a state law that requires the company to give you written notice 30 days before the contract renews, so you have time to cancel. If they don’t do that, dispute it on your credit card.”

It turns out Aventura made a mistake.

They had a new mailing address for red light violations, and Amy was given the old mailing address to send in her payment.

Aventura then wiped out the second fine, reduced it to the original $158 that Amy owed, and she paid it again but not with a smile on her face.

Amy Seidman: “Now, I curse Aventura every time I have to go down there.”

A lot of cities got rid of those red light cameras, but many in South Florida still have them.

Howard Finkelstein: “And the courts have ruled the red light cameras are legal, so don’t try to beat the light because it’s expensive.”

All red from battling a problem? Wish you knew someone who trafficked in solutions? You do. Drive our way and give us the green light to help you.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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