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Red-light cameras outside Fla. emergency room snag those rushing for help

- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2014

Florida authorities have installed red-light cameras near the emergency room entrance at University Hospital in Tamarac, and people rushing to receive medical assistance are getting caught up in traffic violations.

Jacob Alcahe told Watchdog.org that's exactly what happened in October when he was driving himself to the emergency room, experiencing what he thought was a heart attack.

"That day I felt very bad," he said. "I couldn't breathe and I was sweating and my chest hurt."

Panicked, Mr. Alcahe was stopped at a red light for several minutes at the intersection of University Drive and 72th Street, right outside of the hospital. He finally decided he couldn't wait any longer — a decision that would cost him $283.

Luckily, Mr. Alcahe was not experiencing a heart attack and was able to recover with medication. However, when he received the traffic ticket a few days later for $158, he decided he'd try and plead his case.

"I went to court trying to show the judge medical records. I explained that it wasn't intentional, but it was a medical emergency," he told Watchdog.org. "I expected at least a fair (trial), but I think the camera is put there intentionally to capture violations of the people who actually have a medical emergency.

"It's a scam to get the city more money," he said. "It's unfortunate because local authorities should be for us and seem to be against us. I don't understand and don't think it's fair."

The judge told Mr. Alcahe that his medical emergency wasn't a "sufficient excuse" and was charged an additional $125 for the judge's time, Watchdog.org reported.

Tamarac recently installed several traffic cameras throughout the city, with a goal "to achieve a higher level of public safety, through the use of the remote red light camera systems."

The clerk's office told Watchdog.org that 571 citations were issued between Sept. 1, 2013, and Tuesday at the intersection near the hospital.

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