March 17, 2010

"A greedy government pig covered with some public safety lipstick"

The following was posted March 03, 2009, to the website of Dallas area attorney, Robert Guest.

Why We Don't Fight Red Light Camera Tickets

I hate red light cameras. These automated taxing agents are the wretched offspring of nanny state fascism and government greed. Google has placed my site near the top for red light camera searches. Many of you come here looking for help. I share your disgust for red lights cameras. However, I do not take red light tickets. I want to help, but the numbers don't make sense (for you or me).

This is not an accident. The government designed the system to induce massive give up among defendants. If the government was going to steal a million dollars from one person, you can bet that person would fight the case. It's much easier for the government to steal $1 from a million drivers.

Most red light ticket are between $50-$150. To fight a red light ticket case you have to waste at least one whole day at court in front of a unaccountable administrative judge whose primary duty is to raise money for the city. This judge is going to find you guilty even if you hire OJ's defense team. After your hearing (no jury trials allowed) you may have some limited right of appeal, but that takes more time and another court appearance. Can you afford to miss a day of work to save $100? How about two days?

I can't try a case for $100. I certainly can't appeal a case for that much. There are attorneys who offer discount ticket defense, but that requires a volume practice. I am allergic to massive amounts of cases.

The simple equation for most drivers is Cost of Paying Ticket < ticket=" Pay">

Throw in the fact that most red light tickets are not reported to DPS and do not result in any "points" or a DL suspension and you have a system designed for large scale petty theft. The penalties involved are not high enough for defendants to hire a lawyer or spend the time and energy required to assert their rights. Taking time away from work and obligations to fight the government in a ticket case is not an option.

If red light cameras are allowed to exist in Texas then defendants should have the protections afforded other defendants in ticket cases (jury trial etc). If this is really about "public safety" and not taxation, than a little due process won't hurt.

My advise to the public; find a traffic ticket lawyer to fight your case and vote against

the morons who allowed these cameras to invade our communities.

I couldn't agree more with Mr. Guest's description of the purpose of these bullshit cameras, but fighting them is nigh on to impossible even if you are part of City Hall.

The cities love the cameras because the $75 civil citations sent by mail to the registered owner of the car are virtually impossible to fight, as the burden has been shifted from the state to the citizen to prove he or she didn't run the light. At unmonitored intersections, running a traffic light is a Class C misdemeanor meaning the burden is on the prosecution to prove the citizen ran the light.

A City of Houston commissioned study intended to prove the cameras improved safety, did just the opposite. During the period studied, the number of rear-end collisions increased at camera-controlled intersections from 55 to 90, the number of side collisions increased from 220 to 427 and the number of sideswipe collisions increased from 72 to 167 (click graphic to gigantisize).

The Washington Post did a study that showed the number of accidents at monitored intersections in Washington, D.C., between 1999-2005, increased at a higher rate than at non-monitored intersections.

In spite of Police Department data proving that the number of accidents in the city has decreased every year since 2004, City of Houston camera apologists still claim that the cameras prevent accidents, and swear that the increased number of accidents at those intersections is not due to the cameras but, instead, to the increased number of accidents in the city.

The purpose of the cameras is increasing city revenues, not safety, and this latest data pretty much proves that. Between September 2006 and the end of 2008, more than 387,000 citations were issued and the city raked in over $20 million in fines.

Yet the accidents keep going up.



Old NFO said...

Exactly the same scenario in Atlanta... And DC and NOVA are getting them too. I only have one on my route to/from work, at it does have the shortest yellow of any lights I transit...

Shadow Light said...

I'd be interested to see the statistics in Savannah since the cameras went up. When I first moved here in 1995 it was regular practice for about 10 more cars to go through after the light had turned red at all the intersections. I lost a car being t-boned by someone driving above the speed limit to run through the light and it was almost a daily occurrence to have a bad accident at one of the intersections.

Granted once they started putting about 12 motorcycle cops there and catching every person that went through after the red that helped. In Savannah it was a case of no one ever got a ticket for running the red lights so everyone did it.