By on March 11, 2013

“Elmwood Place is engaged in nothing more than a high-tech game of 3-Card Monty, (sic)” Ruehlman wrote, referring to a card game used by con artists.

And with that phrase, Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman stopped a six-thousand-ticket-per-month operation.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the tiny village of Elmwood Place near Cincinnati, Ohio was partnered with speed-camera firm Optotraffic to write three tickets a month for every man, woman, and child residing within the municipal limits. Optotraffic received $41 of every $105 ticket. At the village boundaries, the speed limit drops from 35 to 25mph — a tactic used infamously by “the corruption capitol of Ohio”, New Rome. Unlike that now-defunct municipality, however, Elmwood Place doesn’t have a kangaroo court and outsized police force to do their dirty work. They simply sit back and let the private partnership with Optotraffic rake in over three hundred thousand dollars per month in fines.

No longer. Judge Ruehlman brought a halt to the proceedings with a permanent injunction. Elmwood Place plans to appeal, of course. This may be the start of a genuine legal dialogue about speed cameras in Ohio — or it may simply be a rare sensible and ethical act from the state’s judiciary. Let’s hope it’s the former.

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72 Comments on “Ohio Judge: “It is a scam that motorists can’t win.”...”


  • avatar
    ott

    WOW. Talk about greedy! Good on the judge for the injunction. All these ticketing companies (and the municipalities that sign contracts with them) are snakes, plain and simple.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Momma

      PLEASE someone tell me if I’m making an enormous mistake. I got an automated photo ticket in Westwego Louisiana about 6 months ago and I’m ignoring the damned thing. I work for FEMA doing hurricane relief and am very conscientious about driving carefully as I log tens of thousands of miles a year and can’t afford tickets. I don’t speed but I do use a radar detector as additional safety – so it was quite a shock when an enormous flash blinded me shortly after my detector alerted as I drove along the levee in a sparsely populated area. I didn’t slow down when the detector alarmed as I was going 35mph … but I’d driven into an arbitrary 25mph zone. Sure enough there was a ticket waiting in my p.o. box when I got home.
      A little research revealed that the company that runs these photo trailers is in Colorado and they make a mint on this racket. My letter arrived without me signing for it and it contained a web address which ostensibly shows a video of me driving my car. I did NOT log onto the site as then they’d have proof I’d gotten the letter. Obviously I didn’t sign a cop’s ticket and had a cop pulled me over and seen my FEMA credentials they’d know I’m there to help a distressed populace and not be cited thus no citation. So I’m ignoring the ticket. Problem is I can’t find any info on the web as to the efficacy of this tactic. Yes I can afford the ticket, but it’s the principle of it. Anyone out there care to comment?

      • 0 avatar
        espressoBMW

        Have you thought about sending a letter to the city, county, whatever, courthouse that authorized the ticket? Explain the situation and ask that it be dismissed. This way you are taking the speed camera company out of the equation and dealing directly with a (supposedly) law-upholding representative who may see your side. And you will not be seen as simply evading the ticket which could get you in worse trouble if you’re ever pulled over in Lousiana again.

        • 0 avatar
          Piston Slap Yo Momma

          That’s a tactic I’d not considered. I could have contacted their court before the payment deadline, but again, I didn’t want to acknowledge receipt. Logically, if they’re sending the extortion request without needing a signature, how seriously are they taking it? Payments go straight to Colorado too, taking the Westwego PD out of the loop. I will call the court however and see if I get a receptive audience.
          For the record – I resent this automated Big Brother BS. Automated revenue generation is antithetical to justice.

          • 0 avatar
            burgman

            A judge in Orange County CA. held that the tickets were inadmissible in court as they had not been properly served. The folks who logged on to contest the citations were judged to have been properly served. I have no idea about your jurisdiction, but the idea of not responding may be good.

      • 0 avatar
        Hedge

        @Piston…Automated, camera tickets are not a criminal case. They are merely a civil fine imposed by the jurisdiction issuing the mail. As such, these fines do not appear on your driving record and are unenforceable unless the jurisdiction files a civil suit against you for collection. These fines are not made a part of inter-state driving record databases.

        Unless you rack up, say, $3000 in civil fines, a municipality is not going to the trouble of filing suit for collection. As I tell anyone who will listen…IGNORE these mailings and watch your driving, you are in no danger of it affecting your insurance or driving history.

        Signed: An Ohio Attorney

        • 0 avatar
          Piston Slap Yo Momma

          Ignore them I shall. And I’ll be twice as vigilant about absurd speed zones in sparsely populated places or late at night or both. My doubt stemmed from a parking ticket I got in 2007 in Monterey CA. I returned home to my (at that time) home in Texas and ignored it. Months later I got a letter from the Texas DMV that my license would be revoked if I didn’t pay it. THAT was a surprise, so I paid it plus the exorbitant late fees. Sooner or later this tactic will be rolled out for speed cams too, then we’ll all get a right good rogering if you get my drift. For now though I’m tossing their f’ing letters in the round file. THANKS for your .02¢ my attorney friend.

          • 0 avatar
            Hedge

            Yep parking tickets are a different kettle of fish, Piston. They are generally tied to the car and hence the owner, but it is a particularly aggressive municipality sending them to state databases.

            Thankfully the automated camera tickets run afoul of criminal due process under the 4th Amendment, so I see the industry disappearing before they become criminally enforceable. In my view, this type of thing amounts to organized crime and racketeering on the part of our government sub-divisions.

    • 0 avatar
      nacnud62

      Paintball the speed cameras!!!!

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Cleveland’s Lyndale has been stopped also. The police had the minimum part of hihway allowed to work with and used almost 24/7 to radar speeders on I-71.

    I didn’t drive that area but did see it often on GPS navigation called Waze. Very handy in notification of these speed traps.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      Anyone and everyone living in Cleveland. Knew/knows when you hit that section of I-71, you slow down. Growing up there, it was an informal part of my drivers ed.

    • 0 avatar
      Jim Fekete

      wow, that ends a long, proud tradition of over-the-top enforcement by Linndale. Everyone knew that (1/8 mile or so?) stretch of 71 was a problem back in the mid-80’s…

  • avatar
    carrya1911

    About time these shenanigans were stopped…

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Sensible act from the Ohio judiciary? Don’t count on it. Ohio is home to the infamous ‘cognovit’ note. a loan document that allows the lender to unilaterally declare the debtor to be in default and have judgment instantly entered against him.

    Don’t know why there have to be these huge rake-off fees to these camera companies. The technology has to be fairly generic by now, which should allow some close-to-the-bone pricing.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      One word: connection.

      Not unlike that of GM and the White House.

    • 0 avatar
      jd418197

      I got nailed for a red-light violation; the photo was amazingly clear, with me behind the wheel. There really wasn’t anything I could do.

      As for cognovit notes, there’s nothing unilateral about it. If you can’t read you shouldn’t be signing contracts. Meaning, if you don’t want to be at risk, maybe don’t sign something with the following – statutorily required – language that appears on all such contracts:

      Warning — By signing this paper you give up your right to notice and court trial. If you do not pay on time a court judgment may be taken against you without your prior knowledge and the powers of a court can be used to collect from you regardless of any claims you may have against the creditor whether for returned goods, faulty goods, failure on his part to comply with the agreement, or any other cause.
      Ohio Revised Code § 2323.12(D).

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      You can’t blame the judiciary for that. The Ohio judiciary has tried to limit the note, and it’s really the legislature’s job to ban the things.

    • 0 avatar
      Hedge

      It’s true, Ohio is one of few states allowing Cognovits…BUT that has nothing to do with Automated Camera Fines.

      The fines are generally unenforceable, unless you are a habitual offender and rack up thousands in fines. The fines are not criminal and must be collected under a civil suit, which is becoming easier to fight.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Luckily very few people would ever need to drive through that area unless they live there. There aren’t any businesses/entertainment, and it’s a pretty low-rent area.

    I wouldn’t be hanging around there at night.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    There are definitely towns like this in California. For example, Hawthorne, CA, near LA, has a few chain stores near one of the safest intersections in LA County. Nonetheless, they have red light cameras at this intersection solely for revenue purposes, as opposed to bigger cities that put them at dangerous intersections as shown by statistics.

    The red light cameras are, of course, very profitable for the vendor that operates them. Some people refuse to shop in Hawthorne as a result of their revenue-raising ways.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Nothing would piss-off a motorist more than receiving an automated photo ticket in the mail (with little or no recourse). At the very least, they would vow to never return to the area.

      Businesses would quickly see a drop off in sales and I suspect that the businesses who were threatening to leave Elmwood Place was the real impetus behind the judge’s ruling.

    • 0 avatar
      sckid213

      I know at least 5 people who have gotten nailed with a red light ticket at Rosecrans & Hindry in Hawthorne. All were leaving Costco.

      • 0 avatar
        phatcow

        make that six. Wife got nailed going to costco off rosecrans left.

        its amazing how clear and HD that video was of her doing it. I wish the cities here would put as much effort into putting those cameras at non RLC intersections to deter crime.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    About time.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Judge must have got a ticket.

  • avatar
    ehgee

    At 20mph, a pedestrian hit by a car has a 5% chance of death. At 30mph, the chance of death is 45%, and at 40mph the chance is 85%.* Why should a mostly-residential town be unable to enforce a reasonable speed limit near its houses and schools?

    *http://humantransport.org/sidewalks/SpeedKills.htm

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Perhaps when that little hamlet operates as a legalized theft cartel?

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      That’s a complete straw man argument, you can extrapolate down to 10 or 5 mph and say “it’s for the good of the children” to have cars crawl through town. The solution isn’t to have artificially low speed limits, it’s to have a well designed road system where pedestrians and vehicles can co-exist. A pedestrian crossing with $1000 fine for red-light violation would have cost the same as the speed cameras and would have the same effect on safety. Speed bumps and 4-way stops near schools could calm the traffic and cost even less to implement.

      I live next to a high school with an annexe across the road. At the end of classes the kids just wander straight into the road, normally texting and oblivious to all traffic, there isn’t even a school crossing there. One day when a kid inevitably gets killed the driver will get blamed for driving at whatever speed when the real problem was the lack of thought into who uses the road.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “One day when a kid inevitably gets killed the driver will get blamed for driving at whatever speed when the real problem was the lack of thought into who uses the road.”

        And this is exactly what has happened in certain cities I’ve lived in. There was one main road that was 3 lanes each way with a 45 mph speed limit. Despite there being a middle school and a high school on that roads, there were no incidents for a very long time.

        When a careless kid did end up getting hit by a car once, everyone freaked out, and the city lowered the speed limit to 35 mph and also re-striped the 3 lanes to be narrower and added a bike lane so as to encourage motorists to drive slower in a narrower lane. It never should have happened, and the school should have gotten a crossing guard or something else if this was such a big concern.

        Most of the kids did not walk to school, and those who did would not have needed to cross the main road. There were traffic lights near by as well that allowed safe crossing.

        That’s not to say that speed limits should never be lowered. However, people should consider all reasonable alternatives and not just jump to conclusions.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      The NHTSA says there were 63,000 pedestrians injured or killed by being struck by vehicles in the most recent year for which they have data which is 2009.

      The NHTSA also says that in 2009 we drove around three trillion vehicle miles.

      That’s one pedestrian every 50 million miles. Or in other words at 12000 miles a year I’m due to injure a jaywalker roughly once every 4,000 years and kill one every 60,000.

      If we’re going to draw our conclusions from unrelated and abstractly applied statistics then perhaps drivers licenses should be revoked at the age of 59,999.

    • 0 avatar
      serothis

      @ehgge

      sitting@home pretty much pointed out out the problem but the generic version is that the current speed camera system isn’t actually resulting in fewer people dying. The only statistically significant outcome is that the town is raking in a lot of cash.

      If you read the linked article, one of the reasons the ordinance was struct down is because a motorist can’t reasonably appeal the ticket. The other reason was “they were put into use without following Ohio law for public notice on new ordinances”. This has nothing to do with the children.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      And at 0mph the “chance of death is 0%.” The chance of starving to death before getting to where you’re going is quite high, however.

      Does this place pay for all the monitored roads in it’s entirety? Or are the roads partially paid for by others who may actually have an expectation of using them to arrive at where they’re going before they literally starve to death? I know, another conundrum easily solved by getting the government out of something; in this case road building, maintenance and policing.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Hilarious comment.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    The Australian state of Victoria privatised all of it’s revenue earning assets (power supply etc etc ) and was left without any income . That is, except for the revenue from realestate stamp duty. So the then government hit on the great idea of milking motorists with speed cameras and radar devices controlled by police. But in the spirit of private enterprise they handed over the control of them to private individuals. The death toll on their roads hasn’t diminished to any great degree but the amount of money raised is stupendous.
    You receive your ticket in the mail and you have to pay it. Although the laws defy all logic in law and are against our pitiful constitution there are various web based firms which can fight the fine for you. They have pointed out the basic illegality of these things.
    The other result is that people in Victoria do not drive at sensible speeds,they crawl along the roads in a stupor at speeds 10% below the posted limits.

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    This story reminds me when I was doing a power plant installation in Kiowa, OK. The town could not have had more than 200 people in it, yet had 4 squad cars and many police. How the city paid for all this was by operating a speed trap scam. There were several speed changes for the town, 70 to 55, 55 to 45, 45-30, thus if you were looking in the wrong direction or were tired and missed a sign, you were nailed. I stayed in an apartment complex. The apartment next to mine was occupied by a traveling judge. He told me that of 112 tickets issued in Kiowa in 1 month; only 3 people were going to fight. That means 109 paid the fines. Also, consider you have to appear in court to fight the ticket and Kiowa is in the middle of nowhere. How many people would drive 100, 200 or more miles to fight a ticket in a Kangaroo court?

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      That reveals a fundamental flaw in the legal system. The question to ask is:

      At which level of government should automobile/driving be managed?

      If it’s at the state level, municipal police should not have the right to issue tickets. If there needs to be court involvement, the driver should be able to go to any state court to settle the issue, instead of a particular one.

      If it’s at the municipal level, the ticket is only valid at that particular municipality. Meaning that the driver doesn’t need to pay for the ticket, if he remembers never to step into that town again.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      There were many speed traps along US-69 in Oklahoma. Got so bad that Oklahoma passed a law in 2004 that allows the state to investigate towns that get more than 50% of their budget from state and federal highways and take away their ability to enforce traffic laws on those highways if they abuse that power. A truck stop owner up the road at Big Cabin got revenge by parking semi trailers as signs saying “Speed Trap Ahead” at the edge of town.

      http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/05/554.asp

      “Police in Big Cabin, Oklahoma will have their ticket-writing privileges suspended for six months beginning next Monday. This action follows a state Department of Public Safety investigation that found nearly three-fourths of the town’s revenue — $492,826 of its $681,028 budget — came from traffic citations in the last fiscal year. Under Oklahoma law, a city may not receive more than half its income from such fines.

      The majority of the revenue came from enforcing the speed limit on US highway 69, which is 55 MPH through the town — except for one quarter-mile stretch where it drops to 45 MPH. A local truck stop owner who believed the excessive speed enforcement was hurting business erected a large “speed trap ahead” sign to warn motorists. After the problem continued, the owner filed the successful speed trap complaint against the town.”

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    This is news? I learned back in the mid-1980s to NOT speed through small Midwestern towns (especially in Ohio).

    When you enter town (on State Highway __ of course) and it says 25mph, you’d better be doing that or under, preferably in advance.

    Same story, but with newer technology. Those local sheriffs didn’t give a whole lot more leeway than the photo-snappers do now!

    • 0 avatar
      lilpoindexter

      When i lived in SE Michigan, I would go out of my way and drive up through Indiana to avoid the entire speed trap state of Ohio. The entire state is a stinking speed trap.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    6,000 tickets per month.
    $105 fine per ticket.
    $630,000 per month income ($371.7k to city, $258.3k to camera company).

    That’s not a bad monthly haul for both the city and company. With that sort of money, I would imagine there will be a lot more of these automated ticket cameras sprouting up across the country.

    Never mind that the whole process is not exactly legal. My favorite part is that there’s no actual points assessed on your license or insurance notification, so it’s all good.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “My favorite part is that there’s no actual points assessed on your license or insurance notification, so it’s all good.”

      That problem in California is that the camera tickets (for red lights, not speed) are exactly like real tickets. In many other states, they are like parking tickets and you pay them to make them go away. In California, they result in points on your license and insurance increases, which is less than ideal. You also pay the same massive fine of $421 or whatever it is these days.

      That’s incidentally, why they require the cameras to get a picture of the driver in California. In other states, sometimes, they only need a picture of the back of your car in order to send a letter to the registered owner. Here, they check the driver against photos of the registered owner and anyone who lives at the registered owner’s household. If they can’t identify the driver, they request that the registered owner identify the driver and try to imply that the registered owner is legally obligated to disclose the driver, even though the registered owner is under no obligation to do so.

      That said, if speeding enforcement was almost exclusively done by cameras with big obvious casings, as is the case in Europe, I’d probably complain less. It’s a big waste of police resources to set speed traps.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      In other words, the city is drawing in about $5100 in “windfall” revenue per year for each household in the municipality. Yet, the village government still had the gall to propose a property tax hike in November to fund emergency services (police, fire, EMS). If a town of 2,200 people can’t pay for stuff like that on $4.5 million a year in speed fines, then extorting motorists is just one of several problems.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    These Orwillian devices are spreading like cancer in the counties in my home area. One of the local Big shots even was quoted as saying that “we need these additional cameras installed now! We badly need the revenue!” Well, at least he was being honest. The fact that the companies that install these parasitical devices get a cut of the tickets is a clear case of conflict of interest. What is needed is a massive public uprising against this taxation. And some appropriate civic action, kind of like the Great Tea Party….

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Their revenue is hurting, but rarely do we hear about scaling back on spending to be commensurate with the population and revenue coming in. Cuts rarely win elections.

      I think a fundamental flaw in the way many people think is that the Government is the money tree. They don’t see Governments as the corporations they really are. They need to balance costs with income and carefully consider investments like any private organization would.

      These demands lead politicians to look for economic “quick fixes” like speed cameras and other bogus schemes to pay for all their promises. Thing is, theres rarely any accountability in politics for actually doing a good job.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Ha! I hear about this every day, as Elmwood Place isn’t that far from where I live.

    Split opinions on this whole thing. Part of me dismisses this as merely a shake-down and money grab. The other part tells me people have little respect for the law, whatever law it may be.

    No matter what, everyone loses in the end.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      My proposed solution would be to separate traffic safety from revenue. Set reasonable speed limits and traffic light timing for safety purposes only. Once the limits are reasonable, enforce the law to prevent or punish unsafe driving. To take the corrupting revenue out of the process, have the fine amount donated to a charity of the motorist’s choosing.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Why are residents not recalling the city council members and mayor over this? Seems like the best way to fix the problem is to get rid of the deadwood in city hall.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      Because they’re too lazy to govern themselves. In Jesse Jackson. Jr’s district, where the obtusely corrupt politician was ousted, voter turnout for his replacement was 11 percent. Truly, the citizens deserve the government they get.

      The world is run by those who show up to do it.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      In Ohio, the legality of a recall election varies municipality to municipality; not having a copy of Elmwood Place’s charter handy, it might not even be possible in that town.

  • avatar
    wsimon

    Perhaps blatant speed traps on Interstates and US Highways are a violation of the Commerce Clause? It has been invoked for less, and it could be argued that impeding interstate commerce on federal infrastructure is a violation of said clause. Maybe someone with more than the year of law school experience I have could shed some light on this?

    That said, the true remedy to this is to change police funding; that is, all revenue being split at the state level based on need, eliminating the take-in-what-you-ticket method that exists in most municipalities. That way, high crime rate jurisdictions would receive more, which they desperately need, and low-crime rate jurisdictions would lose the incentive to extort money from the population through artificially low speed limits.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      I would also liked to see that invoked for Left Lane Bandits.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The federal government generally leaves jurisdiction to the states that contributed construction funding and actually built the interstates. The states did have to enter into a freeway agreement with the feds, but many states require freeway agreements with the communities they pass through too. Enforcement jurisdiction language in those agreements is controlling.

      Given the speed limits mentioned, these are state and federal routes or “business bypasses” that also serve as local streets, not interstates. I don’t think the feds can or would get involved, it looks like a state/local matter, which only states have the power to resolve – and states are the parties with nearly all the power in this case.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I must be a naive Canadian. Sure, I’ve been given a ticket for 12KM over the limit, and I’ve gotten photo-radar tickets. But, I’ve never encountered a stone-cold shake-down like these ‘speed traps’ in America.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      They have photo radar in Alberta but not in Ontario anymore. The NDP Government in Ontario set up speed cameras in the 1990s, which generated almost 20 million dollars in 11 months. People were so upset about it that they elected the Conservative Government less than a year after the photo radar systems were installed on a promise to eliminate them, and they did.

      Since then, municipalities tried to install them again citing revenue, but the province won’t let them based on statistics that show Ontario already has some of the safest roads in North America.

      Interestingly, this year the Police Cheif of Toronto was tasked with finding an additional 6.7 million in his annual budget. He turned to city council to install speed cameras instead of actually improving the efficiencies of his departments.

      It’s easier, duh.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    I find all of these latest rounds of faux concern over our burgeoning police state to be hilarious. Am I the only one that has noticed the severe decline in civil liberties in the BEFORE 9-11?

    First, liberals castigated President Bush for the warrantless detentions in Cuba and the Military Commissions instead of Jury Trials in Federal Court, as well as warrantless wiretapping under the Patriot Act of Terrorist suspects. Meanwhile, ordinary Americans are routinely subjected to even more blatant and dubious warrantless searches and arrests, given much less rigorous court proceedings with inferior defense counsel, and held in jail and prison conditions that are far worse than the terrorist suspects in Cuba. Nobody cares.

    And now the Republicans are attacking Obama’s policy of Drone Warfare, particularly against american citizens. As though 100’s of Ordinary Americans weren’t being slaughtered routinely every year by law enforcement with virtually no outcry from the press or the republicans. Nobody cares.

    If the speed cameras ever point their gimlet eye at a terrorist suspect, I am quite sure that a new exception will be carved out.

  • avatar

    I read the comments with great interest, as I helped get rid of New Rome in 2005 and sent more than a few letters about Linndale as well. (Nope, never had a ticket in either)

    The comment about pedestrians is specious; Linndale patrolled an interstate highway, which did not allow pedestrians.

    The other point that I need to reinforce is that if it REALLY is about safety, won’t they continue to write tickets even with the profit motive removed? (Hint: No, they will not)

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Will they ticket without the profit motive? Well, in my MIL’s incorporated village, the town was going to place a $camera within that village. The village said, hey, if you are raising revenue within our village, we want 50% of the cut. Suddenly the data indicated that a “more safety related intersection” was located up the block out of the village, and the town’s safety goals would be better met by placing the $camera there. Disgusting.

  • avatar
    redav

    When I was working in Louisiana, one of the towns with a heliport (I think it was Cameron) had a speed trap where the limit dropped to 20 AND it was a perpetual school zone, even if it was at 2 am on a Saturday in summer. They also had a cop sitting there at all times from what I could tell. From all the accounts of coworkers, many towns in La use such speed traps for revenue.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I actually support strict enforcement of speed limits, and I have no philosophical problem with cameras. But when it is set up for the purpose to be broken or nonsense zones created (like school zones in the middle of the night or 20 mph limits on open roads), then it is simply govt abuse & corruption.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The biggest take for a single infraction with the $camera$ around my home town is from a rolling right on red. Now, I concur that a full stop is how the law is written. But really, when a motorist does a 5 mph roll through at 5:30am on their way to work, does that really justify a ticket? I’d actually be ok with cameras if the goal was to stop the egregious examples of blowing through a light an near road speed. But those tickets issued are actually the smallest percentage here. So lets see, the most dangerous actions generate the least take, and the least generate the most. Well, the camera companies will tell you to shorten the yellow, that will boost the improvement of the weakest category. Bottom line is that it’s ALL about the money. And until the stupid sheep (yeah, that’s all of us) get their butts off the couch and vocally speak out against this stuff, we are stuck. On the local level, people need to find out where their representatives stand. If they support the cameras, an active attempt to vote them out of office must be taken. Not easy, but otherwise we do get the government we deserve.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        You are exactly correct. We had a pilot program in our city with four intersections set up with the cameras for a year. I attended some of the meetings with the city council where the police department presented the statistics. By far (something over 80% IIRC) the most tickets were for not stopping completely for a right turn which as you state, is not dangerous in most cases.

        It was maddening, because the stop line for the right turn lane was so far back from the intersection, that you had to first stop there (otherwise, ticket), creep forward, and then stop again in order to be able to see if it was safe to turn. I was paranoid about doing this because I didn’t want to trigger the system by creeping forward after stopping the first time, so I would just sit and wait until the green light (backing up traffic, oh well).

        Fortunately, our council had a smidgeon of common sense and canned the entire photo-ticketing program after the evaluation period was over. Now, they’re just putting up Big Brother cameras at all of the major intersections, monitored from a room at city hall.

  • avatar
    JK43123

    These cameras are unconstitutional. I always felt it but couldn’t figure out why until my wife came home one day and said I might get a ticket because she was stuck in traffic, in the middle of an intersection that has red light cameras and the light turned red before she was through. I thought, “why me” when I realized it reads the plate and the cars are in my name.

    And then it hit me: if a COP had pulled her over it would have been held against HER LICENSE. A cop is one way, a machine is another way? The law is the law. These cameras are unconstitutionally vague.

    (Never did get a ticket)

    John

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “(Never did get a ticket)”

      That’s because the camera was never triggered in that scenario.

      Generally speaking, the car must be going X miles per hour in order to trigger the camera. If your wife was stuck in rush hour traffic and simply “blocking the box” and not moving, it wouldn’t have triggered.

      In addition, a perfect defense on your part would have been that you weren’t driving. Some jurisdictions try to imply that you must tell them who was driving, but you generally aren’t under an obligation to do so.

      In California, these cameras must get a picture of the driver because they are treated as real tickets, and not just parking tickets.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Your complaint about reading license plates is a non-issue. When cameras were used here, the tickets issued were for non-moving violations, such as illegally occupying an intersection as opposed to running a red light. The penalty (fine, knock against insurance, etc.) is less severe because it fits into the same class as a parking ticket. Note: the owner of a car is liable for parking tickets, not whoever was driving the car. As the owner, you are responsible for that car. If it is used to commit a crime, or is involved in injuring a person or damaging property, you as the owner are liable and can be sued. That’s the law. They are constitutional (though perhaps unwise) unless a constitution is amended specifically to prohibit them.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    About a year ago, for idle fun, me and a buddy made what we call the Fly Snipe. We used a DVD 20x burner laser (the thing cuts electric tape, marks wood, lights tissue paper on fire) with some double-AA’s. With a strong IR filter and ‘sighted in’ it was the best fly-swatter I ever had. You’d see a fly on the wall and BWWZAAP suddenly fly have no wings.

    Reason I bring this up is Fly Snipe would inadvertently be an ideal weapon against pernicious cameras of all kinds – it would burn the CCD in them, especially with all those optics in the camera to focus the beam more. And you can fry the camera from long ways away if you want, after all its a frick’in laser. Heck, it’d burn through the shutter if the camera had a mechanical one. Given how pervasive cameras are becoming, and how corrupt they are used, Fly Snipe would be an antidote of sorts.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Momma

      That’s occurred to me too and initially I was motivated to try your theory out. Then I considered this: if those cameras are active all the time, i.e. recording 24/7, not just when they’re snapping pictures, what’s the last thing that will be in the camera’s recorded memory after you’ve blasted its CCD sensor?
      A: you, holding the laser. Something to consider.

      • 0 avatar
        CarnotCycle

        Given the resolution the cameras have, and the range, they would be easy to cook from a distance. All you have to do is hit the aperture where the lens is, and the optics finish aiming onto the delicate bits for you. The laser’s own aiming optics would need a very strong filter to deal with any reflections coming back. That would also be potential defense for camera-maker, but unlike laser-user the camera-maker has no idea what laser they have to defense, (lots of good SS lasers across frequency spectrum these days). If camera-maker defends against all potential consumer-accessible lasers (wait for the bans on these things to start coming), they will have a camera that sees nothing.

        And if camera maker makes a pinhole-tiny optical path + sensor (like iPhone cam), it takes that much less energy to destroy, and makes the camera’s ability to collect light on the sensor that much worse. If they go other way, with better optics and bigger sensors (think SLR), they make an easier target. Physics is your friend in this theoretical battle.


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