My Newfound Hatred for Traffic Cameras

4 Aug

The City of SpoKompton royally pi$$ed me off today.  Like red-hot searing anger.  They mailed me a traffic ticket.  It seems that when I was coming home from work the other day, I was caught on camera making a right turn on red.  Without coming to a complete 3 sec stop.  There were time-stamped pictures, my license plate, and a video clearly showing I had broken the law.

And believe me, readers, do NOT comment on this post that I was in the wrong so I should indeed have to pay the $124 ticket.  I will come unleashed.  I’m that belligerent about it.

Why I’m so mad:

-It was at 5:12 in the morning.

-There was NO other traffic.  Even the video showed I approached a clear intersection, slowed down, turned, and what followed was a clear intersection.

-You could also see in the video clear crosswalks and sidewalks = no pedestrians.

-Not know the letter of the law is not an excuse, but puh-leeze.

-I think the law needs to change to make sense.  When nobody is there are you’re making a right–why force a 3 sec stop?

-I could see paying a ticket in the very maximum amount of $50.  I can understand that–and I would pay without fussing to the authorities (though you better believe I would fuss on here).  But charging me as if I blew through a whole intersection during a red light?  Nonsense.

-This particular intersection is notorious.  So much so that when I am driving during any sort of daylight hours, I take the (longer) back way–just because the scene is so terrible.  You see, I have to turn left from my residence–and there is no left turn arrow.  And the preceding stoplight of traffic going the opposite direction (coming toward this intersection) is timed so that just as this infamous intersection gets a green–the cars race up the road going straight.  Negating a left turn.  You could sit through 3 or 4 cycles (I have) before finally getting enough time and room to dart quickly to complete a left.  And I have–many times.  Most people that end up in the left turn lane inch into the middle of the intersection, then finally just go.  It’s either block the cross-traffic or run the yellow/red.  So they are forced to wait all day or go either on yellow, or after the light has already changed to red.  There are LEGIT failure to stops making it dangerous.  So DURING HOURS WHEN THERE’S TRAFFIC it’s a dangerous intersection.  BUT have they put in an arrow?  Do they place police there to watch?  Do they change the timing of the lights?  No!  They don’t really care.  Nothing changes to fix the problem and make notorious intersection any safer or user-friendly.  I’m mad about my ticket because the above factors tell me my ticket is not about safety, but money.

-I see way worse offenses go unticketed at this intersection then my right on red.

-They only give you 2.5 weeks to pay the full amount of money.

-What’s NOT to be mad about?

Here’s an article talking about how other people are also angry:

Rolling Right Turns

Rolling right turn violations have been proven to have very little effect on driver safety. In fact, a review of US Department of Transportation statistics shows that an average motorist could drive a billion miles — the distance from Earth to Jupiter and back — before being involved in an accident that resulted from a motorist making a right-turn-on-red. Even these few crashes involved failure to yield the right-of-way; previously stopping, or not stopping, were not the primary cause of these accidents.

Cities with ticket cameras sell the cameras to the public by explaining that they’ll help prevent right-angle crashes. However, the majority of tickets given out inevitably end up being for minor rolling-right-turn violations.

According to the LA Times, Los Angeles officials estimated that 80% of their red-light camera tickets are for rolling right turns. And according to the Chicago Daily Herald, rolling-right-turn violations have accounted for 90% of the tickets generated in several Illinois communities. These tickets are often given to drivers who actually stopped safely but were inches over the line.

Drivers have long interpreted the “Right Turn On Red” law to mean that they must yield to other traffic and to pedestrians before executing a right turn when they confront a red signal at an intersection [my emphasis]. As noted above, this interpretation has worked out extremely well from a safety and traffic movement perspective. Strict enforcement of provisions that require the driver to come to a complete stop, at a specific spot, did not occur until the advent of red-light ticket cameras.

Consequently, while almost all motorists observe the “yield the right-of-way” requirement, they do not always come to a complete stop before executing a right turn on red. National accident data clearly indicate that coming to a complete stop is not necessary, and possibly undesirable, if it causes rear-end collisions.

The NMA believes that the best course of action is to change the law so it is in sync with the way motorists successfully comply with the concept of “Right Turn On Red.” That means removing the requirement mandating coming to a complete stop and replacing it with language that further emphasizes a right turn on red can only be executed after yielding the right of way to all other vehicles and pedestrians. All states, not just those that permit the use of ticket cameras, should make this change in their Right Turn On Red law.

That’s what I’m sayin’!  And from another site:

At The Ticket Clinic, we have seen many red light camera tickets for making a right turn on red.  The red light camera laws state that a red light camera ticket cannot be issued if the driver makes the turn in a “careful and prudent” manner.  While Florida law requires the driver to come to a full stop and a police officer can issue a ticket in person if the driver does not come to a full stop, the red light camera tickets have a lower standard.  Yet, because of the vague language cities are taking a liberal reading of “careful and prudent” and issuing red light camera tickets if the driver does not come to a full stop.  Many individuals are unaware of this distinction between and chose to simply pay the red light camera ticket because they think they must be guilty.  But as long as a pedestrian, bike or oncoming car, a rolling stop when making a right on red that is made carefully should not be a citable offense.

But what to do?  Unfair, ridiculous or not–I have the ticket and I’m now responsible for it.

I was am also really stressed out because I absolutely cannot spare over a hundred dollars.  So I looked online trying to find a way out.  It was obviously my car based on the clear pictures and close-up license plate number.  I obviously did not stop for 3 sec before completing my right turn.  The video shows a red light.  So I did irrefutably break the (stupid, pointless–gerrrr) law.  There was a letter on the internet that Cool gave me that did get the charges dropped for someone two years ago:

To Whom it May Concern,
I received a letter claiming I committed a violation of a speeding law in the District of Columbia on 04/21/2012. As per the instructions, I am writing to plead ‘not guilty’ to this charge. Although this option is said to result in this matter going to court; it is my suggestion that the charges simply be dropped. This suggestion comes out of respect for tax payers, and my request that their hard earned money not be wasted in such proceedings. As there is no evidence of my involvement with this alleged ‘crime’, as well as the fact that I am not granted my 6th amendment right to face my ‘accuser’ (a camera); I see no way the government could prove my guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I also see find no legal requirement for me to implicate someone else in this process, as it is the government’s responsibility to prove a person’s guilt. It is also my 5th amendment right to remain silent on the matter.
If it is the government’s decision to move forward in this matter, I would request copies of any evidence the prosecution may have of my involvement in the “offense”; as well as, all maintenance records for the camera(s) involved.
Sincerely,

But I thought the cities are now savvy to that.  They have proof in the form of 3 pictures, a video, time stamps. . .  I am desperate though, so I perused the internet further:

Argue the Reliability of the Camera

When in traffic court to fight the ticket, ask whether the camera was indeed working properly at the time it generated your ticket. Cameras are machines and they can malfunction. If the prosecution cannot decidedly prove that the camera was working properly, they do not have a solid case proving that you ran the red light. Also, those reviewing the pictures can make a mistake in deciding on the accuracy of the picture. Question if they are absolutely certain the picture proves that you ran the red light.

Witnesses at Trial

The red light camera manufacturer is supposed to appear at trials regarding red light traffic tickets. A representative from the camera company is there to testify whether the camera was working properly and when it was last maintained. If no one shows up to represent the camera company, you can argue that no one is there to verify whether the picture is accurate.

Hearsay

One can try arguing that the photograph is hearsay and is therefore inadmissible under the Sixth Amendment. It is hearsay because you cannot cross examine the photograph or the camera. The Sixth Amendment gives defendants the right to confront their accuser.

In summary, it is best to have a traffic attorney represent you. If you are not familiar with traffic law, you will not be able to mount your own defense in court. Without knowing the law or how to prepare a defense, you will likely lose your case.

This seemed like some good ideas, but I in no way want to go to court, but what other choice do I have, right?  So I looked at the evidence again and noticed you don’t see the driver in the pictures or video.  It can’t be proved that I was behind the wheel at this particular time.  So I’m going to try to fight it based on that, and hopefully I can avoid paying the city’s bills for them.

And because this is so stupid, expensive, and a huge pain in my a$$, I’m making some changes:

-I will avoid that intersection–even in the early morning hours when no people are around.

-I will vote down any legislation regarding use of traffic cameras.

-I will talk (more) trash about SpoKompton.

-I may or may not remember to fully stop for 3 seconds at any right turn regardless of the traffic/pedestrians even though it seems like complete over-kill and money-making schemes to me.

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