WSVN — Some people think red light cameras are illegal, but they are not, and many cities still use them. But what if you get a citation, and you are not driving the vehicle? Do you still have to pay the fine? To find out, one man called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When we came over to talk to Derek, he had just gotten over a facial infection.

Derek Becker: "Bacteria got in and infected my cells and boom, face looked like a big balloon, so I was in the hospital for a week."

Derek’s face is healing well, but he came home to another problem. Derek had loaned his scooter to a friend to get to work. As you can see, the friend blew through a red light on Alton Road and got caught on camera.

Derek Becker: "I got the citation sent to me because I am the registered owner of the vehicle."

But Derek filled out this notarized affidavit letting Miami Beach know the name of the driver. His friend then went to a hearing to take care of the citation.

Derek Becker: "The case was upheld and subsequently he was fined $258."

But Derek’s so-called friend didn’t pay the $258 fine and when Derek tried to renew his tag, guess what happened.

Derek Becker: "Because I am the registered vehicle owner, it’s now my responsibility."

Patrick Fraser: "So they are coming after you?"

Derek Becker: "Right, and they are restricting me from renewing my tag."

Derek can’t renew the license plate on his scooter unless he pays the $258 fine his friend got.

Patrick Fraser: "Did you talk to your friend when you got the ticket?"

Derek Becker: "I left him several voice messages. He wasn’t eager to call exactly."

Derek explained to the city and the State of Florida he wasn’t driving that day. But no luck getting anyone to do anything about it.

Patrick Fraser: "Some people would say, ‘Why not pay the $258?’"

Derek Becker: "Well, that was going to be my last option in order to not let my tags expire, but I would like to try to fight this if possible. I mean, if I have no other option, I’ll just pay it."

Well, Howard, someone driving your vehicle gets a red light camera citation and doesn’t pay it, can the state hold your tag renewal hostage till you pay it?

Howard Finkelstein: "No, if your vehicle is caught running a red light on camera, you are not responsible if you fill out a notarized affidavit explaining who was driving the vehicle. Derek did that, he does not have to pay the citation and his license should be renewed, and someone needs to correct their mistake."

I contacted Miami Beach and once again was reminded, it’s simple if you find the right person. Melissa Berthier only took one hour to fix things. She told me this was a very unusual problem, and there was a technical error. That day, Miami Beach contacted the vendor and the hold was released on Derek’s license plate.

Derek Becker: "I was able to renew my plate as normal."  

By the time we saw Derek again, he had renewed his tag, and he was reminded that Help Me Howard ain’t so bad. 

Derek Becker: "Excellent, very responsive, amazing. If you feel you’re in the right, you take it to Help Me Howard."

Thanks, Derek. Now, those red light cameras irritate a lot of people, but if you get a citation, don’t be tempted to get out of it by filling out the affidavit saying you weren’t driving. Running the red light will cost you cash, lying on an affidavit is a crime, and you can go to jail for it.

Hit a red light trying to solve your problem? Here’s the ticket. Scoot over to us. You will look great on camera, especially compared to Howard and me.
With this Help me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News. 

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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