A recent news report in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, gives yet another example of a red light camera ticketing an innocent driver and then leaving it up to the accused motorist to prove the ticket was undeserved. Here’s a quick overview of what happened: Troy Carter, a driver with a Louisiana license plate, received a red light camera ticket in the mail from the city of Baton Rouge. The photo showed a Blue Mercury vehicle, which was completely different from the vehicle he owned—a white GMC Yukon XL. However, both his vehicle and the Mercury shared the same license plate number. The key was that Carter’s vehicle is registered in Louisiana with Louisiana plates while the Blue Mercury is registered in Texas and has a Texas license plate. The ticket should have gone to the owner of the Blue Mercury but instead Troy Carter ended up with completely undeserved ticket out of the blue.
On its website, the city assures residents that this kind of thing won’t happen with the ticket camera program because each ticket is “evaluated by sworn members of the Police Department to verify that a violation has occurred and to determine whether a notice of violation should be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.” After this kind of mistake, they’re going to have a tough time convincing anyone that their “evaluation process” isn’t just an officer with a rubber stamp. The story didn’t end there though.
Troy Carter wrote a letter to the city that included visual proof of their mistake. However, instead of apologizing, the city’s response was basically “show up in court or pay the ticket.” That’s when Carter turned to News 2, a local TV station.
A reporter went to District Court—which is where the ticket instructed Carter to go—to ask about the citation. The employees there told him that they couldn’t help him and that he should actually go talk to City Court. Employees at City Court explained that all they deal with is collecting payments for red light camera tickets and that they couldn’t help him either.
In the end, like Troy Carter, News 2 found it impossible to figure out who was actually accountable for the red light camera appeals system in Baton Rouge. The station eventually had to go to American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the ticket camera manufacturer, to get the citation dismissed for Mr. Carter.
So how do you fight an undeserved red light camera ticket in Baton Rouge? Unfortunately, the news station wasn’t able to get that answer for their viewers. For now, there’s only one way: embarrass the ticket camera company through the local media.
[courtesy The National Motorists Association]