The Truth About Cars » Crime & Punishment http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 04 Dec 2014 19:13:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Crime & Punishment http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Suzuki Dealer, District Manager, Indicted For Fraud http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/suzuki-dealer-district-manager-indicted-for-fraud/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/suzuki-dealer-district-manager-indicted-for-fraud/#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2012 16:20:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=461081 Two high-volume Suzuki dealerships in South Carolina are at the center of a federal fraud case, as a dealer and Suzuki district manager are among those indicted on three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Paul M. Gibson, who operated two Suzuki dealers in South Carolina, as well as Brian J. Sullivan, the Suzuki […]

The post Suzuki Dealer, District Manager, Indicted For Fraud appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Two high-volume Suzuki dealerships in South Carolina are at the center of a federal fraud case, as a dealer and Suzuki district manager are among those indicted on three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Paul M. Gibson, who operated two Suzuki dealers in South Carolina, as well as Brian J. Sullivan, the Suzuki district manager responsible for Gibson’s stores and 8 other defendants, were indicted. The charges center on claims of false advertising and fraudulent loan documents.

Automotive News reports that 

“Ads promised, among other things, that customers could drive a new Suzuki “for life” for payments of $99 per month or less, according to the indictment. Other ads said that customers could have a new car for six, nine or 12 months for minimal payments, trade in the car after a set term, “and obtain a new car at no cost,” the indictment alleged.

“…dealerships advertised low monthly payments, while staffers told customers that Suzuki would provide the dealership with funds to pay, on behalf of the customers, the difference between the higher monthly payments listed on retail installment sales contracts and the low promotional rates customers agreed to pay. 

Customers who attempted to trade their vehicles in after the stated time period would attempt to do so only to find out that they couldn’t obtain a new car under the previously promised terms. The indictment also alleges that the dealership and its employees falsified loan documents, while telling customers to ignore the doctored papers

“…the contracts listed vehicle values far in excess of the market values of the cars in question. When customers asked about the inflated values and corresponding high monthly payments, the defendants told the customers to “totally disregard any of the numbers on the contracts because they would never be obligated to pay anything more than the agreed, low monthly promotional amounts,” the indictment said.”

Should the defendants be found guilty, they could each face a maximum of 60 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.

 

The post Suzuki Dealer, District Manager, Indicted For Fraud appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/suzuki-dealer-district-manager-indicted-for-fraud/feed/ 14
Ohio: Yanking Motorist Out of Car Is Not a Welfare Check http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/ohio-yanking-motorist-out-of-car-is-not-a-welfare-check/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/ohio-yanking-motorist-out-of-car-is-not-a-welfare-check/#comments Tue, 27 Dec 2011 14:57:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=423560 Cops in Ohio may not rip a motorist out of his vehicle to “check on his welfare.” The state court of appeals handed down a decision earlier this month in a case involving a man parked on the side of the road in a quiet Columbus residential neighborhood who was “helped” out of his car […]

The post Ohio: Yanking Motorist Out of Car Is Not a Welfare Check appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>


Cops in Ohio may not rip a motorist out of his vehicle to “check on his welfare.” The state court of appeals handed down a decision earlier this month in a case involving a man parked on the side of the road in a quiet Columbus residential neighborhood who was “helped” out of his car with physical force.

Al E. Forrest sat in the driver’s seat of a 2003 Ford Explorer with another man in the passenger seat as two police officers came up on either side of the vehicle. According to Officer Kevin George’s testimony, he just wanted to see if the Explorer driver was okay. The officers had no suspicion of any criminal activity prior to approaching the Explorer. When George poked his head into the driver’s window, Forrest looked surprised to see a cop staring at him through the window. George said this was a sign of “nervousness.” When George saw money in Forrest’s left hand, he ordered the man out of the SUV. This was the beginning of the legal problem for the Columbus officer.

“We note initially that the police needed no suspicion of activity, legal or illegal, in order to walk up to or approach the Ford Explorer,” Judge G. Gary Tyack wrote for the appeals court. “What a person willingly displays in public is not subject to Fourth Amendment protection. However, Officer George went far beyond approaching the vehicle.”
Forrest did not immediately get out of the Explorer. Instead, he rolled up the window and removed the keys from the ignition. Unsatisfied with this response, George pulled open the car door and yanked Forrest out. George had no warrant and had still not observed any illegal activity. Because of this, a Franklin County Court of Common Pleas judge suppressed evidence obtained from arresting Forrest. The state appealed. The three-judge appellate panel found the prosecution’s claim that exceptions to the Fourth Amendment applied to be entirely unpersuasive.

“The state argues probable cause to arrest and then search incident to arrest are present, but both fail because they are premised on Forrest’s wrongfully refusing to obey the order to step out of the vehicle,” Judge Tyack wrote. “The officer, however, had no basis to order Forrest out of the vehicle because he lacked reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity when Officer George reached across Forrest’s body to grab his hand and pull him out of the vehicle. Since there was no lawful arrest, the search and seizure cannot be justified as a search incident to a lawful arrest.”

With the suppression motion upheld, the state has no case against Forrest. A copy of the decision is available in a 30k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Ohio v. Forrest (Court of Appeals, State of Ohio, 12/6/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Ohio: Yanking Motorist Out of Car Is Not a Welfare Check appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/ohio-yanking-motorist-out-of-car-is-not-a-welfare-check/feed/ 20
Italy: More Officials Arrested for Photo Enforcement Corruption http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/italy-more-officials-arrested-for-photo-enforcement-corruption/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/italy-more-officials-arrested-for-photo-enforcement-corruption/#comments Fri, 23 Dec 2011 15:05:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=423391 A pair of senior police officers in Brindisi, Italy were arrested Tuesday in a speed camera bribery scheme. The owner of a BMW X6 blew the whistle on officers Giuseppe Manca and Antonio Briganti after a speed camera accused him of driving 160km/h (99 MPH) on state route 16, where the limit is 110km/h (68 […]

The post Italy: More Officials Arrested for Photo Enforcement Corruption appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

A pair of senior police officers in Brindisi, Italy were arrested Tuesday in a speed camera bribery scheme. The owner of a BMW X6 blew the whistle on officers Giuseppe Manca and Antonio Briganti after a speed camera accused him of driving 160km/h (99 MPH) on state route 16, where the limit is 110km/h (68 MPH).

The driver faced a fine of between 500 to 2000 euros (US $650 to $2615) plus license points. The officers offered to make the conviction disappear for payment of 250 euros (US $327) in cash. The officers were able to erase the conviction from the speed camera logs to prevent detection of their tactics.

The attempt at secrecy failed when the BMW found he was out of cash. The driver’s account of what transpired is supported by surveillance video showing one of the policemen escorting him to a bank in the village of Pezze di Greco to withdraw money. Judge Paula Liaci ordered Briganti and Manca to be placed in preventative detention.

Meanwhile, the public prosecutor in Grosseto conducted four raids on the offices of speed camera companies in Capagnativo and Scarlino. Investigators uncovered irregularities in the way speed camera contracts were handed out in those jurisdictions between 2005 and 2007. Previously, local police handled speed camera operations, but prosecutors insist forgery, corruption and bid rigging led to the decision to contract out the photo ticketing services.

Investigations into Italian speed camera fraud have been in the works for years. Earlier this month, seven were arrested in Frosinone for rigging speed camera contracts. In March, the Guardia di Finanza announced five indictments in Brescia. In August 2009, speed cameras were shrouded in black plastic as up to 200 officials faced charges in Caserta. In September, a judge ruled that a group of 15 mayors, cops, speed camera company employees should stand trial on fraud charges.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Italy: More Officials Arrested for Photo Enforcement Corruption appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/italy-more-officials-arrested-for-photo-enforcement-corruption/feed/ 3
Federal Appeals Court Embraces DC Speed Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/federal-appeals-court-embraces-dc-speed-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/federal-appeals-court-embraces-dc-speed-cameras/#comments Thu, 22 Dec 2011 13:19:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=423274 The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Tuesday rejected a class action lawsuit filed against the speed camera program in the nation’s capital. Motorists Henry Dixon and Cuong Thanh Phung argued the city violated their constitutional guarantee to equal protection of law by treating drivers pulled over for speeding more harshly than […]

The post Federal Appeals Court Embraces DC Speed Cameras appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Tuesday rejected a class action lawsuit filed against the speed camera program in the nation’s capital. Motorists Henry Dixon and Cuong Thanh Phung argued the city violated their constitutional guarantee to equal protection of law by treating drivers pulled over for speeding more harshly than drivers mailed photo tickets for speeding.

The US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against Nixon and Phung, finding no violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (through the Fifth Amendment) because drivers apprehended for speeding by police officers are not similarly situated to motorists photographed and accused of speeding by a photo radar device. The district judge reasoned that the camera is unable to confirm that the owner was the driver, so the greater punishment should not be imposed. The three-judge appellate panel agreed with the lower court’s conclusion, but for a different reason. The speed camera law can stand under the “rational basis test” used to insulate government actions from constitutional challenge.

“The District’s disputed traffic enforcement policies neither burden a fundamental right nor target a suspect class,” Judge Harry T. Edwards wrote for the appellate court. “Therefore, in attacking the rationality of the District’s legislative classification, appellants have the burden to negative every conceivable basis which might support it. Appellants have not met this burden.”

Drivers who exceed the speed limit by 30 MPH — and this could include driving as little as 55 MPH on a wide, six-lane boulevard — are subject to a $300 fine and ninety days in jail if pulled over by the Metropolitan Police Department. If, on the other hand, American Traffic Solutions decides a vehicle is speeding, the company can only issue a civil ticket.

“The District has decided that the best way to deter speeding is through the creation of some variability and uncertainty in the city’s enforcement schemes,” Edwards wrote. “The wisdom of such a determination is not the appropriate subject of equal protection review.”

Washington’s cameras have issued more than $312 million in citations since 1999. The appellate judges found aspects of the program that increase that revenue actually help the city’s legal case.

“Because automated traffic enforcement (ATE) does not require police officers to pursue, detain, or arrest speeding motorists, it is axiomatic that the District’s use of this enforcement system substantially increases the number of speeding motorists who will be detected and face a monetary penalty,” Edwards wrote. “It is true that the owner of a vehicle who receives a citation may request a hearing to demonstrate that he or she was not driving the car when the speeding violation occurred. But the District has good reason to assume that most persons who are cited via the ATE will not contest the fine, either because they are actually guilty of speeding or because objecting is not worth the aggravation.”

A copy of the decision is available in a 45k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Dixon v. District of Columbia (US Court of Appeals, DC Circuit, 12/20/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Federal Appeals Court Embraces DC Speed Cameras appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/federal-appeals-court-embraces-dc-speed-cameras/feed/ 1
Federal Appeals Court Backs Traffic Stop Patdown http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/federal-appeals-court-backs-traffic-stop-patdown/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/federal-appeals-court-backs-traffic-stop-patdown/#comments Wed, 21 Dec 2011 13:29:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=423083 As long as a police officer cites his own safety as the reason, he may frisk any motorist during a traffic stop and remove objects from his pockets, according to a ruling handed down Tuesday by the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. A three-judge panel evaluated whether Officer Joe Moreno was following […]

The post Federal Appeals Court Backs Traffic Stop Patdown appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

As long as a police officer cites his own safety as the reason, he may frisk any motorist during a traffic stop and remove objects from his pockets, according to a ruling handed down Tuesday by the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. A three-judge panel evaluated whether Officer Joe Moreno was following the law when he searched driver Ivan Rochin after he was pulled over in Albuquerque, New Mexico for driving with an expired registration.

“No one likes being pulled over for a traffic violation,” Judge Neil M. Gorsuch wrote for the court. “Still, for most drivers the experience usually proves no more than an unwelcome (if often self-induced) detour from the daily routine. But not every traffic stop is so innocuous. Sometimes what begins innocently enough turns violent, often rapidly and unexpectedly. Every year, thousands of law enforcement officers are assaulted — and many are killed — in what seem at first to be routine stops for relatively minor traffic infractions.”

According to the latest available Federal Bureau of Investigation crime statistics, six officers were killed while pursuing a ordinary traffic infractions in 2009. That represents 0.0008 percent of the 706,886 sworn officers nationwide. Four of these patrolmen were gunned down as they approached the stopped vehicle, and only one was shot while standing at the offender’s vehicle window.

In this case, Rochin happened to match the description of someone wanted for a drive-by shooting. Moreno ordered him out of the car and performed a pat-down search that turned up glass pipes containing drugs. Rochin objected that it was absurd for the officer to remove the pipe from his pants on “officer safety” grounds, but the court ruled such a search was objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

“A reasonable officer could have concluded that the long and hard objects detected in Mr. Rochin’s pockets might be used as instruments of assault, particularly given that an effort to ask Mr. Rochin about the identity of the objects had proved fruitless,” Gorsuch wrote. “To be sure, the pipes Mr. Rochin turned out to have aren’t conventionally considered weapons. But a reasonable officer isn’t credited with x-ray vision and can’t be faulted for having failed to divine the true identity of the objects.”

The court upheld Rochin’s conviction. A copy of the decision is available in a 20k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File US v. Rochin (US Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, 12/13/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Federal Appeals Court Backs Traffic Stop Patdown appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/federal-appeals-court-backs-traffic-stop-patdown/feed/ 4
Colorado: Auditor Blasts Denver Photo Ticketing Program http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/colorado-auditor-blasts-denver-photo-ticketing-program/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/colorado-auditor-blasts-denver-photo-ticketing-program/#comments Tue, 20 Dec 2011 14:28:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=422907 After performing a thorough performance audit, Denver, Colorado’s city auditor is no longer convinced of the value of red light cameras and speed cameras. The Denver Police Department (DPD) deputized the Dallas-based firm Affiliated Computer Services (ACS, a division of Xerox) to issue red light tickets at four intersections and speeding tickets throughout the city […]

The post Colorado: Auditor Blasts Denver Photo Ticketing Program appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

After performing a thorough performance audit, Denver, Colorado’s city auditor is no longer convinced of the value of red light cameras and speed cameras. The Denver Police Department (DPD) deputized the Dallas-based firm Affiliated Computer Services (ACS, a division of Xerox) to issue red light tickets at four intersections and speeding tickets throughout the city with five roaming vans. The program has little more to show for itself than a profitable bottom line.

“Unfortunately, DPD has not demonstrated that the photo radar program has a positive impact on public safety,” City Auditor Dennis J. Gallagher wrote. “Because these programs were sold as public safety enhancements but are widely viewed as a cash grab, it undermines public trust to maintain photo enforcement programs that are profitable but whose safety impact has not been conclusively shown. If this situation persists, then the photo enforcement programs should be shut down.”
The audit noted the speed van program has been operating since 2002 without any objective measurement of the impact on safety. Instead, city officials relied on the report of the number of violations generated by ACS as the sole measure of effectiveness.

“A reduction in violations does not necessarily entail a significant reduction in speed, nor does it indicate a decrease in accident rates or pedestrian injuries,” the audit report noted. “Further, a 2006 internal DPD assessment suggests that DPD believes driver’s habits adjust as citizens become familiar with the locations of the photo radar vans. Therefore, a decrease in violations does not directly correlate to a sustained decrease in speeds after photo radar is deployed to a different location.”

Photo radar generated $3.6 million in revenue in 2010 and that amount is expected to top $7 million by the end of 2011 because ticketing operations expanded to seven days a week. With the red light camera program, certain types of accidents did decrease at the camera intersections, but the audit pointed out the city could not legitimately credit the improvement to cameras.

“At three of the four intersections with red light cameras, the number of right angle accidents was decreasing before the red light cameras were installed,” the report explained.
The full safety impact is impossible to gauge because city leaders increased the duration of the yellow lights, enlarged signal heads and installed countdown timers at the intersections where cameras were installed. The engineering improvements helped make the intersection safer, but also reduced the number of violations issued. To boost the number of tickets, ACS and Denver began ticketing people who stopped at red lights — but their car was photographed protruding a few inches beyond the stop bar. No other jurisdiction in the state tickets drivers who fully stop at red lights.

“Program revenues spiked largely due to more precise stop line enforcement,” the audit explained, “By April 2011, ACS was able to dramatically increase the number of incidents captured by the red light cameras due to the upgrades.”

These extra picky violations are the sole reason Denver’s red light cameras are profitable.

“DPD should also be aware that while program revenues recently increased in Denver, if DPD or Denver policymakers change the violation point to better align with practices in other municipalities, program revenues may decline to the point where they do not meet the budget for the program,” the audit explained.

In its response to the report, Denver police insisted it was impossible to conduct a study that would satisfy the auditor’s concerns. The most the department would do would be to have ACS conduct a study to justify continuing the ACS program by June 30, 2013.

A copy of the audit report is available in a 4mb PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Denver Photo Enforcement Program (Denver, Colorado City Auditor, 12/15/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Colorado: Auditor Blasts Denver Photo Ticketing Program appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/colorado-auditor-blasts-denver-photo-ticketing-program/feed/ 11
Florida Appeals Court Sides with Red Light Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/florida-appeals-court-sides-with-red-light-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/florida-appeals-court-sides-with-red-light-cameras/#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2011 16:42:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=420940 The Florida legislature’s authorization of red light cameras last year was superfluous, a divided state Court of Appeals panel ruled yesterday. The majority sided with the city of Aventura in overturning a Miami-Dade County Circuit Court decision from last year that found Aventura had jumped the gun by giving American Traffic Solutions (ATS) a green light to […]

The post Florida Appeals Court Sides with Red Light Cameras appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

The Florida legislature’s authorization of red light cameras last year was superfluous, a divided state Court of Appeals panel ruled yesterday. The majority sided with the city of Aventura in overturning a Miami-Dade County Circuit Court decision from last year that found Aventura had jumped the gun by giving American Traffic Solutions (ATS) a green light to mail out automated tickets without waiting for the state’s permission.

Florida law does not allow a city to adopt an ordinance in conflict with a state statute. The majority argued a provision requiring traffic officers only to issue traffic tickets for violations they personally observed is not in conflict because the same officers can “observe” the infraction on video under the Aventura photo ticketing ordinance.

“The ordinance allows for a traffic control infraction review officer, who although sharing the qualifications of the type of officer referenced in section 316.640(5)(a), is instead appointed by the city pursuant to the ordinance and for the distinct purposes of viewing recorded images and issuing corresponding citations in accordance with the ordinance,” Judge Angel A. Cortinas wrote for the majority. “Accordingly, we find the trial court erred in its determination that section 48-26 allowed the cameras to serve as the sole basis for issuing a notice of violation in direct conflict with section 316.007, Florida Statutes.”

The majority also noted that the state legislature authorized the use of red light cameras in 2010, without mentioning that lawmakers specifically rejected attempts to include retroactive language legitimizing camera programs that started before 2010.

Judge Leslie B. Rothenberg disagreed with her two colleagues with a dissent that noted the state specifically abolished municipal courts. She argued Aventura created a different standard of proof and liability for red light violations with penalties conflicting with those set by the legislature. The state punishes the driver with a $60 fine, but the city goes after the vehicle owner with a fine of up to $500. These standards are judged by a Aventura’s own special master, not through a judicial officer established by the legislature.

“The city is essentially utilizing the state’s uniform traffic control devices (traffic lights), approved and regulated by the state for enforcement of the state’s uniform traffic control laws, to punish violators through the city’s own enforcement program and to pocket the revenues it collects for its own benefit,” Rothenberg wrote in her dissent. “This is exactly the sort of inconsistent application of traffic laws and traffic penalties the people and legislature of this state sought to preclude by abolishing all of the municipal courts and enacting a uniform statewide traffic control system.”

A copy of the decision is available in a 140k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Aventura v. Masone (Court of Appeals, State of Florida, 11/30/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Florida Appeals Court Sides with Red Light Cameras appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/florida-appeals-court-sides-with-red-light-cameras/feed/ 2
Maryland Court: No Redress When City Violates Speed Camera Law http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/maryland-court-no-redress-when-city-violates-speed-camera-law/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/maryland-court-no-redress-when-city-violates-speed-camera-law/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2011 21:26:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=420391 Maryland state law prohibits municipalities from paying contractors to operate speed camera and red light cameras on a per-ticket basis. In an October 27 ruling, the Court of Special Appeals found that localities are free to ignore this legal requirement. A group of motorists in 2008 filed a class action lawsuit against Montgomery County, the […]

The post Maryland Court: No Redress When City Violates Speed Camera Law appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Maryland state law prohibits municipalities from paying contractors to operate speed camera and red light cameras on a per-ticket basis. In an October 27 ruling, the Court of Special Appeals found that localities are free to ignore this legal requirement.

A group of motorists in 2008 filed a class action lawsuit against Montgomery County, the cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg, and Chevy Chase Village because each paid Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) $16.25 for each ticket the company issued, in violation of the statute.

“If a contractor operates a speed monitoring system on behalf of Montgomery County, the contractor’s fee may not be contingent on the number of citations issued or paid,” state code section 21-809 states.

According to the county’s original contract, ACS was to “install and support all traffic camera equipment” and “supply an automated violation processing services solution that is capable of supporting high volume program operations.” Montgomery County was first given authorization to use cameras over the veto of then-Governor Robert L. Ehrlich (R) in 2006 and the grant was later expanded to all other jurisdictions in 2009. The motorists argued they have the right as private citizens to pursue a claim against the state government to remedy an illegal act. The General Assembly took no action to bar such suits. The appellate court insisted the legislature only allows fighting a ticket in a lower court and that broader challenges taken to a circuit court are not allowed.

“Although appellants argue that it is impractical to bring an action challenging the propriety of a contingency fee in the district court, we see no other way to interpret the plain language of this provision — appellants are permitted to raise any defense in the district court regarding the legality of the citation,” Shirley M. Watts wrote. “Appellants, therefore, had the opportunity — which they failed to exercise –to challenge in the district court the speed citations they received, presenting the argument that the contracts between appellees and ACS were unlawful.”

Prince George’s County district court judges have already stated that they will not consider evidence that a driver is innocent of a speed camera accusation at trial. On September 4, 2008, Montgomery County changed the wording of its contract to state: “Contractor provides vehicles and equipment, but does not operate the speed monitoring system.” The appellate court accepted this as sufficient, even though there is no difference in the way the system is operated.

“We are aware of appellants’ insistence that the amendments to the contracts between appellees and ACS do not resolve the contention that ACS is an operator of the speed cameras,” Watts wrote. “We discern, however, no basis to look beyond the plain, unambiguous language of the contracts, which specifically provides that appellees and not ACS are operators of the speed cameras in Montgomery County.”

A copy of the decision is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Baker v. Montgomery County (Court of Appeals, State of Maryland, 10/27/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Maryland Court: No Redress When City Violates Speed Camera Law appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/maryland-court-no-redress-when-city-violates-speed-camera-law/feed/ 19
Maryland: Innocence Not a Defense to Speed Camera Citation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/maryland-innocence-not-a-defense-to-speed-camera-citation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/maryland-innocence-not-a-defense-to-speed-camera-citation/#comments Tue, 22 Nov 2011 14:55:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=419592 Prince George’s County, Maryland judges are tired of complaints that photo enforcement citations are inaccurate or otherwise invalid. To speed proceedings on “speed camera day” when automated citation cases are heard, at least one judge is cautioning motorists not to bother attempting to prove their innocence, regardless of the merit of their argument. “This is […]

The post Maryland: Innocence Not a Defense to Speed Camera Citation appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Prince George’s County, Maryland judges are tired of complaints that photo enforcement citations are inaccurate or otherwise invalid. To speed proceedings on “speed camera day” when automated citation cases are heard, at least one judge is cautioning motorists not to bother attempting to prove their innocence, regardless of the merit of their argument.

“This is a speed camera violation session,” District Judge Jean S. Baron said on November 9. “The only defense the court is going to accept is if you were not the driver of the vehicle and you have the name and the address of the person who was driving and you present that to the court under oath, I will accept that as a defense. Please don’t tell me that you know you couldn’t have been going that fast or there’s something wrong with the equipment.”

Will Foreman, owner of Eastover Auto Supply, has infuriated local prosecutors by offering a mathematical proof that his delivery vehicles were incorrectly accused of speeding. He used the photographs taken by the speed camera vendor Optotraffic to create a time-distance calculation showing his vehicles could not possibly have traveled at the velocity alleged. To counter this, Optotraffic press spokesman Mickey E. Shepherd, who is not a scientist, would present evidence at trial that the camera equipment verifies its own accuracy.

“There’s someone here from the jurisdiction who testifies that the equipment was calibrated and validated — or it is self-calibrating — then I’m not going to be able to accept that as a defense,” Judge Baron said. “Keep that in mind. Now if you want to accept responsibility and enter a guilty plea, I will take that into consideration and in all probability I will give you a probation before judgment and greatly reduce the fine. Now that’s up to you” (listen to the judge’s full statement).

Foreman’s concern about camera accuracy is echoed in correspondence between the town of Cheverly and Optotraffic. Cheverly this month stopped letting Optotraffic issue photo tickets and switched to Brekford, an upstart rival to the established players American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia.

“Not only are the cameras still not functioning properly, they now are producing violations for invisible vehicles going 76 miles per hour and bicycles going 38 and 57 miles per hour and now violations with just a part of a vehicle in only one photo,” Town Administrator David Warrington wrote in a July 26 letter to Optotraffic. “Finally, we continue to get false speed readings for vehicles that have an irregular size such as buses and trucks with ladder racks. Rather than have meeting to have Mickey tell us ‘that it’s technical’ we would like you to have an explanation for the equipment problems provided to us in writing. I look forward to hearing from you in the next ten days.”

On September 23, Judge Gerard F. Devlin prohibited Foreman from introducing the letter as evidence. Judge Devlin then took matters a step further by jailing James Bradford, 71, for contempt for saying “I was not speeding” after Devlin told him to stop repeating an argument he rejected (listen to the exchange in court).

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Maryland: Innocence Not a Defense to Speed Camera Citation appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/maryland-innocence-not-a-defense-to-speed-camera-citation/feed/ 31
Louisiana Court Affirms Citizen Right to Make DUI Arrests http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/louisiana-court-affirms-citizen-right-to-make-dui-arrests/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/louisiana-court-affirms-citizen-right-to-make-dui-arrests/#comments Mon, 21 Nov 2011 15:17:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=419466 Private citizens can arrest other motorists suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), the Louisiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. A three-judge panel considered the case of Tracy L. Common who was stopped in Westwego by Gretna Police Detective Brian Rico at 9pm on December 31, 2006. Rico was off-duty and outside his […]

The post Louisiana Court Affirms Citizen Right to Make DUI Arrests appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Private citizens can arrest other motorists suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), the Louisiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. A three-judge panel considered the case of Tracy L. Common who was stopped in Westwego by Gretna Police Detective Brian Rico at 9pm on December 31, 2006. Rico was off-duty and outside his jurisdiction.

That night, Rico saw Common’s Chevy S-10 pickup truck swerving on the road and felt the driver was seriously impaired. He activated the lights on his unmarked car and conducted a stop without waiting for the local police to arrive. When Common hopped out of the car, Rico conducted a pat-down search which turned up 50 pills and $1100 in cash. A later search of his car by local police uncovered $2000 and some marijuana.

Though Rico was a police officer, the court assumed he was acting as an ordinary citizen, citing the 2008 appellate case Louisiana v. Lavergne which upheld a DUI traffic stop performed by a volunteer firefighter from Texas.

“Our brethren on the First Circuit held that the defendant’s erratic driving was sufficient to justify a stop for the felony offense of aggravated obstruction of a highway of commerce, which authorized a private citizen to make the arrest,” Judge Susan M. Chehardy wrote for the Fifth Circuit panel. “In this case, as in Lavergne, Detective Rico observed the defendant driving erratically when his vehicle swerved across three lanes of traffic on the Westbank Expressway and nearly collided with Detective Rico’s vehicle…. Here, as in Lavergne, we see no error in the finding that a private citizen who witnessed aggravated obstruction of a highway is authorized to arrest a defendant.”

State law allows private citizens to make arrests for felony offenses, and driving in a way that endangers human life qualifies under the highway obstruction statute. As a result of Rico’s search, Common was found to be in possession of MDMA or ecstasy, for which he was sentenced to seven years of hard labor. The sentence was later upgraded to ten years after the lower court learned it was Common’s fourth felony conviction. Common argued the evidence should be thrown out because it violated his constitutional rights. The court disagreed.

“Evidence seized pursuant to a search by a private citizen, acting in his capacity as a private citizen, is not excluded under the Fourth Amendment because the amendment only protects individuals against governmental intrusion,” Chehardy wrote. “Thus, the pills confiscated by the private citizen would not be excluded under the Fourth Amendment.”

The judges found procedural errors with the penalty imposed, so they ordered him resentenced. A copy of the decision is available in a 500k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Louisiana v. Common (Court of Appeals, State of Louisiana, 11/15/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Louisiana Court Affirms Citizen Right to Make DUI Arrests appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/louisiana-court-affirms-citizen-right-to-make-dui-arrests/feed/ 5
Photo Ticketing Investors Content with Declining US Performance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/photo-ticketing-investors-content-with-declining-us-performance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/photo-ticketing-investors-content-with-declining-us-performance/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2011 15:30:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=419136 Investors in Redflex Traffic Systems were resigned toward the photo enforcement vendor’s declining US performance at Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting in Melbourne, Australia. The company has lost significant US market share and profit as more cities reject automated ticketing machines. Nonetheless, large executive compensation packages were approved without the dissent found in past meetings. Shareholders […]

The post Photo Ticketing Investors Content with Declining US Performance appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Investors in Redflex Traffic Systems were resigned toward the photo enforcement vendor’s declining US performance at Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting in Melbourne, Australia. The company has lost significant US market share and profit as more cities reject automated ticketing machines. Nonetheless, large executive compensation packages were approved without the dissent found in past meetings.

Shareholders signed off on a $324,926 salary for chief executive Graham Davie, plus $194,956 in stock for a total of $519,882 — a raise of 3.6 percent. Board member Karen Finley’s salary increased 3 percent to $318,270 plus $196,060 in stock for a total of $514,330. Finley is in charge of US operations which saw a drop in profit from the first and second half of the year of 7.4 percent.
Redflex has also lost its position as the dominant player in the automated ticketing market to American Traffic Solutions which has used funds invested by Goldman Sachs to buy out smaller competitors and take on their municipal contracts. ATS now boasts the greatest number of cameras deployed.

Those numbers are at risk to voter revolt, however. On November 8, two-thirds of voters in Monroe, Washington moved to send Redflex packing and 55 percent did so in South Euclid, Ohio. So far, twenty-one cities have held ballot initiatives to force the elimination of red light cameras and speed cameras. Other city councils have seen the results and canceled expected programs.

In her annual meeting presentation, Finley promised her company would “avoid ballot initiatives” by blocking voter access to the ballot and “create positive environment for renewals and expansion” by increasing the use of front groups to support automated ticketing machines.

The company is also looking to expand operations by turning school buses into photo ticketing vehicles and bringing more red light cameras to Alabama, Florida and Canada. It has also followed the lead of ATS and filed a lawsuit against its customer, Farragut, Tennessee, because a state law prohibiting photo tickets for right hand turns on red is costing the company significant revenue.

Redflex stock currently trades at $1.70 on the Australian Securities Exchange, down 34 percent since May.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Photo Ticketing Investors Content with Declining US Performance appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/photo-ticketing-investors-content-with-declining-us-performance/feed/ 5
California Court Criminalizes Using Cell Phone While Stopped http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/california-court-criminalizes-using-cell-phone-while-stopped/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/california-court-criminalizes-using-cell-phone-while-stopped/#comments Thu, 17 Nov 2011 15:33:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=418903 In a decision with wide-ranging implications for people who might check their email on an iPhone while stopped at a traffic light, the California Court of Appeal ruled Monday that it was a crime to use a phone at any time behind the wheel of a stationary or moving vehicle. Three days after Christmas in […]

The post California Court Criminalizes Using Cell Phone While Stopped appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

In a decision with wide-ranging implications for people who might check their email on an iPhone while stopped at a traffic light, the California Court of Appeal ruled Monday that it was a crime to use a phone at any time behind the wheel of a stationary or moving vehicle.

Three days after Christmas in 2009, a motorcycle cop in Richmond pulled up to a red light and noticed Carl Nelson, driver of the stopped car next to him, appeared to be making a cell phone call. Nelson put down the phone as soon as he saw the officer. Nelson said he was just checking his email while waiting for the light to turn green. The Golden State banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving in July 2008.

“A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving,” the law states.

A subsequent update to the statute made it also illegal to read or write an email while driving. Nelson was fined $103, and he challenged the fine by arguing that he was not “driving” when he used the phone. He added that if the prosecutors were correct, drivers stuck in dead-stop traffic for hours behind a major accident would not be allowed to make a call while the road is cleared.

“One can [use] a cell phone while stopped at a red light (because it is safe to do so) without having used it while moving the vehicle to the red light and without using it when one resumes one’s voyage after the traffic light turns green,” Nelson argued. “Thus, the fact that one is using a cellular phone while stationary simply cannot give rise to a reasonable inference that one was using the phone before or after the period that one was stopped at a red light.”

The three-judge appellate panel was not persuaded. It argued that the word “drive” applies even when the vehicle is stopped at a traffic light, citing a number of cases interpreting search and seizure and drunk driving laws.

“Any mom or dad driving kids to school can expect to stop while parents in cars in front of them are unloading their kids,” Justice James A. Richman wrote in a concurring opinion. “A shopper driving to a store near Lake Merritt in Oakland may have to stop while a gaggle of geese crosses the street. A couple going for a Sunday drive in West Marin County may have to stop for a cattle crossing. And, of course, all of us are expected to stop for red lights, stop signs, crossing trains, and funeral processions. In short, all drivers may, and sometimes must, stop. But they do so while ‘driving.’ Just like defendant.”

The court majority went on to argue that allowing cell phone use in motionless vehicles would create a safety hazard.

“Were we to adopt defendant’s interpretation, we would open the door to millions of people across our state repeatedly picking up their phones and devices to place phone calls and check voicemail (or text-based messages) every day while driving whenever they are paused momentarily in traffic, their car in gear and held still only by their foot on the brake, however short the pause in the vehicle’s movement,” Justice James Lambden wrote. “This could include fleeting pauses in stop-and-go traffic, at traffic lights and stop signs, as pedestrians cross, as vehicles ahead navigate around a double-parked vehicle, and many other circumstances… Drivers paused in the midst of traffic moving all around them (behind them, in adjacent lanes, in the roadway in front of them) would likely create hazards to themselves and public safety by their distracted use of their hands on their phones and devices.”

A copy of the decision is available in a 220k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File California v. Nelson (Court of Appeal, State of California, 11/14/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post California Court Criminalizes Using Cell Phone While Stopped appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/california-court-criminalizes-using-cell-phone-while-stopped/feed/ 38
Washington: Anti-Camera Initiative Sponsors Seek Rehearing in Court http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/washington-anti-camera-initiative-sponsors-seek-rehearing-in-court/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/washington-anti-camera-initiative-sponsors-seek-rehearing-in-court/#comments Wed, 16 Nov 2011 15:12:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=418402 Although the city council in Redmond, Washington has decided to cancel its red light camera contract, the city continues to block the effort to let voters have a say in the decision. In court papers filed Monday, local activists cited election results in the cities of Bellingham, Longview and Monroe to convince King County Judge […]

The post Washington: Anti-Camera Initiative Sponsors Seek Rehearing in Court appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Although the city council in Redmond, Washington has decided to cancel its red light camera contract, the city continues to block the effort to let voters have a say in the decision. In court papers filed Monday, local activists cited election results in the cities of Bellingham, Longview and Monroe to convince King County Judge Laura C. Inveen to reconsider her October 11 ruling that it would be a “useless act” to put an advisory measure on the ballot.

“Under the local initiative process, the city clerk had a clear duty to transmit the petition to the county auditor,” Judge Inveen ruled. “That mandamus will not lie to compel the useless act of transmitting the initiative to the county auditor where the initiative is invalid according to the Court of Appeals’ recent decision, American Traffic Solutions v. Bellingham.”

On September 14, local activists Scott Harlan and Tim Eyman submitted petitions containing 6050 signatures calling for a vote on a red light camera and speed camera ban. Though the number of unverified signatures was more than sufficient, Redmond refused to transmit the petition to the county auditor for validation of the signatures, with Inveen’s approval. Daniel Quick, attorney for the initiative’s sponsors, argued that a refusal to process a petition violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution and Article I of the Washington State Constitution.

“Striking down the initiative at such an early stage infringes on the rights of the Redmond voters that signed petitions with the expectation that their voices would at least be heard,” Quick wrote. “If the initiative is validated, state law requires that the city adopt the initiative or put it on the ballot for a public vote. Regardless of what the city chooses to do with the initiative, the mere process of validation will spur further discussion and further debate on the issue.”

Inveen had cited Bellingham appellate ruling (view ruling) as her authority for calling the Redmond vote useless. However, the appeals court refused to block the vote (modified to an advisory measure) and two-thirds of the city rejected the use of automated ticketing machines.

“Even an initiative that has no legal effect retains political effects, making it a ‘useful,’ not a ‘useless,’ act,” Quick wrote. “The voters in Mukilteo were allowed to vote on ticketing cameras. The voters in Bellingham were allowed to vote on ticketing cameras. The voters in Longview were allowed to vote on ticketing cameras. The voters in Monroe were allowed to vote on ticketing cameras. Every initiative in every other city where sponsors submitted signatures, those signatures were counted and the initiative resulted in a public vote. In none of these cases did a court stop the people from having their signatures counted and having their voices heard.”

Initiative sponsors are worried that the longer signature verification is delayed, the more people who signed the petition will change their address. Beyond a certain point, the measure may not qualify simply because of intentional legal delays.

“This is the first initiative in Redmond’s city history,” Quick wrote. “If the city succeeds in stopping the initiative at such an early stage, it will deter future citizens from exercising their right to initiative, something that is supposedly guaranteed by Redmond’s city charter.”

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Washington: Anti-Camera Initiative Sponsors Seek Rehearing in Court appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/washington-anti-camera-initiative-sponsors-seek-rehearing-in-court/feed/ 1
Alaska Appeals Court Upholds Burnouts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/alaska-appeals-court-upholds-burnouts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/alaska-appeals-court-upholds-burnouts/#comments Tue, 15 Nov 2011 15:24:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=418284 Drivers cannot be pulled over if they peel out from an intersection with a bit of tire squeal, Alaska’s second-highest court ruled Thursday. In countries like Australia, a similar chirp of the tires could lead to the impounding of the vehicle under “anti-hoon” laws that generate millions in revenue. A three-judge panel in The Last Frontier […]

The post Alaska Appeals Court Upholds Burnouts appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Drivers cannot be pulled over if they peel out from an intersection with a bit of tire squeal, Alaska’s second-highest court ruled Thursday. In countries like Australia, a similar chirp of the tires could lead to the impounding of the vehicle under “anti-hoon” laws that generate millions in revenue. A three-judge panel in The Last Frontier was more forgiving when considering the fate of Vernon Burnett who was pulled over after midnight on September 20, 2009.

Alaska State Trooper Lucas Altepeter saw Burnett’s truck stop, then spin its tires one-third of the way through the intersection while turning left in the city of Bethel. Burnett made no driving errors, but Trooper Altepeter decided to stop him anyway, as he had “never seen somebody accidentally lose traction and spin their tires as fast and as far as this particular vehicle did.” The trooper believed he could write a citation for the tire spinning alone. A district court judge agreed, saying the the spinning was sufficient proof of negligent driving. The appellate court sided with Burnett.

“Under (state law), a person commits the offense of negligent driving if they drive in a manner that creates an unjustifiable risk of harm to a person or to property, and if their conduct actually endangers a person or property,” Judge David Mannheimer wrote for the court. “Altepeter did not assert that Burnett’s driving endangered Burnett or anyone else, or that Burnett’s driving put property at risk.”

Prosecutors countered that spinning tires represented a potential threat to everyone on the road, and that the trooper had reasonable suspicion to effect a traffic stop, or issue a safety warning to the driver. The three-judge panel found this line of argument unpersuasive.

“A person can not be convicted of negligent driving for creating a theoretical or speculative danger,” Mannheimer wrote. “The statute requires proof of actual endangerment.”

The appellate court also rejected the safety warning concept as there was no evidence Burnett was pulled over because he needed assistance or because intervention was needed to protect the public. The last ditch effort of prosecutors was the claim that a peel out gives rise to the reasonable suspicion that the driver is intoxicated. No testimony was given to back up this claim. Similar claims have also been rejected in cases before the New Hampshire Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

“Because we conclude that the traffic stop of Burnett’s vehicle was unlawful, the evidence obtained as a result of this traffic stop must be suppressed,” Mannheimer concluded. “And because the primary evidence of Burnett’s impairment was obtained as a result of this traffic stop, Burnett’s conviction for driving under the influence is reversed.”

A copy of the decision is available in a 275k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Burnett v. Alaska (Court of Appeals, State of Alaska, 11/10/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Alaska Appeals Court Upholds Burnouts appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/alaska-appeals-court-upholds-burnouts/feed/ 5
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Forced Home Entry Over DUI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/federal-appeals-court-upholds-forced-home-entry-over-dui/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/federal-appeals-court-upholds-forced-home-entry-over-dui/#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2011 15:08:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=418053 The US Supreme Court ruled 27 years ago that police could not forcibly enter someone’s home over suspected drunk driving. The Fourth District US Court of Appeals in an unpublished decision is looking to change the precedent. A three-judge appellate panel considered the case of Alan J. Cilman who had filed a false arrest lawsuit […]

The post Federal Appeals Court Upholds Forced Home Entry Over DUI appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

The US Supreme Court ruled 27 years ago that police could not forcibly enter someone’s home over suspected drunk driving. The Fourth District US Court of Appeals in an unpublished decision is looking to change the precedent. A three-judge appellate panel considered the case of Alan J. Cilman who had filed a false arrest lawsuit after Officer M.A. Reeves busted down his door, without a warrant, on October 3, 2004.

Earlier that day, Cilman had left Neighbors Restaurant where he watched a football game and had dinner and drinks. Reeves claimed Cilman drove out of the Neighbors parking lot at a “high rate of speed.” Reeves followed, noting that Cilman had run a stop sign, failed to signal and accelerated quickly in turns. Accounts differ over whether Reeves turned on his police lights before Cilman made it to the driveway of his home, which was not far away. Reeves got out of his cruiser as Cilman was walking briskly to the door. Reeves told Cilman to stop, but he did not say the man was under arrest. Cilman told the officer to get off his property as he went inside and locked the door.

Reeves waited for backup, then kicked in Cilman’s door and arrested him for being drunk in public and evasion without force — not driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Prosecutors later dropped those charges. The US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia agreed that kicking in Cilman’s door without a warrant was a violation of the Fourth Amendment, but a jury awarded Cilman $0 in damages as compensation. Officer Reeves appealed the judge’s finding that he had violated the Constitution, because under state law he would be forced to resign if found guilty of a second constitutional violation.

In the 1984 US Supreme Court case Welsh v. Wisconsin, the high court ruled that “police may not make a warrantless entry into a home to make an arrest for DUI.” The US Court of Appeals panel ruled this precedent did not apply because Virginia imposes a higher fine and longer jail sentence than Wisconsin for DUI.

“No controlling Supreme Court or Fourth Circuit precedent speaks to a person’s right to be free from a warrantless entry into his home in circumstances like those in the case at hand,” the appellate judges ruled in a per curiam decision.

Cilman charged that Vienna’s police exhibited a pattern of Fourth Amendment violations, but the appellate panel dismissed this by calling the reports “isolated, unprecedented incidents.” The judges reversed every judgment in Cilman’s favor and ordered the case dismissed in its entirety.

A copy of the ruling is available in a 50k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Cilman v. Reeves (US Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, 11/4/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Federal Appeals Court Upholds Forced Home Entry Over DUI appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/federal-appeals-court-upholds-forced-home-entry-over-dui/feed/ 2
Tennessee: ATS Sues City Over Right Turn Ticket Money http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/tennessee-ats-sues-city-over-right-turn-ticket-money/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/tennessee-ats-sues-city-over-right-turn-ticket-money/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2011 15:37:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=417771 Automated ticketing vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) filed suit Tuesday against Knoxville, Tennessee for its failure to issue tickets for turning right on a red light — and that is costing the company a lot of money. A state law took effect in July banning the controversial turning tickets, but the Arizona-based firm contends the […]

The post Tennessee: ATS Sues City Over Right Turn Ticket Money appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Automated ticketing vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) filed suit Tuesday against Knoxville, Tennessee for its failure to issue tickets for turning right on a red light — and that is costing the company a lot of money. A state law took effect in July banning the controversial turning tickets, but the Arizona-based firm contends the law should not apply to their legal agreement with the city, which anticipated the bulk of the money to come from this type of tickets.

Municipalities were disappointed in August when Attorney General Robert J. Cooper Jr shot down the argument that this statute somehow did not apply to existing contracts, writing that “the parties have no vested right in a particular level of revenue” (view opinion). ATS disagrees.

“Because of the uncertainty caused by the attorney general’s opinion, Knoxville has been compelled to cease issuing citations to the owners of vehicles detected making illegal ‘right turns on red’ by traffic cameras based on the attorney general’s opinion,” ATS attorney C. Crews Townsend wrote. “In 2010, right-turn-on-red violations accounted for substantial fines collected by Knoxville pursuant to their respective ordinances. A portion of these fines were remitted to ATS pursuant to the agreement. This was a critical component of the agreement’s consideration supporting the parties’ contractual rights and obligations.”

ATS bases its argument on the “legislative history” of the new law. Many friendly state lawmakers assured the company that a grandfather clause would be slipped into the bill. The final, adopted version contained no such language exempting existing photo enforcement programs from the law’s provisions. ATS insists the lack of this provision is hurting the company’s bottom line.

“Without a court order clarifying that Public Act 425 does not impact the agreement, the injury to ATS will remain significant, immediate and continuing,” Townsend wrote. “If, as the attorney general has opined, Public Act 425 applies to existing contracts, including the agreement, then Public Act 425 has substantially impaired the agreement. Indeed, Knoxville has ceased prosecuting certain violations as required under the otherwise existing, valid, and enforceable agreement, and is causing ATS to lose substantial revenue.”

ATS asked the Chancery Court for Knox County to declare the right turn law unconstitutional because it discriminates against traffic camera companies.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Tennessee: ATS Sues City Over Right Turn Ticket Money appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/tennessee-ats-sues-city-over-right-turn-ticket-money/feed/ 18
Chicago, Illinois Speed Camera Plan Could Dwarf Red Light Revenue http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/chicago-illinois-speed-camera-plan-could-dwarf-red-light-revenue/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/chicago-illinois-speed-camera-plan-could-dwarf-red-light-revenue/#comments Tue, 08 Nov 2011 15:18:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=417144 Sixty-one million dollars a year is a lot of money. That is the revenue Chicago’s red light camera program program generated in 2010. Based on reports from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), a proposed speed camera enforcement program being pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) would make the city’s red light camera program look […]

The post Chicago, Illinois Speed Camera Plan Could Dwarf Red Light Revenue appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Sixty-one million dollars a year is a lot of money. That is the revenue Chicago’s red light camera program program generated in 2010. Based on reports from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), a proposed speed camera enforcement program being pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) would make the city’s red light camera program look penny ante in comparison.

The Expired Meter obtained the results of three studies conducted by CDOT over the past few years which shed light on how lucrative the speed camera business could be for Chicago. Data from these reports seem to indicate that revenue from speed cameras could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for a desperate, cash-strapped city.

Emanuel is pushing legislation through the Illinois General Assembly at breakneck speed, which, if passed, would allow Chicago to utilize its red light cameras to also issue $100 speeding ticket to vehicle owners accused of exceeding the speed limit by more than 5 MPH in designated “safety zones” within an eighth of a mile of schools, parks and colleges.

As the basis for the automated speed camera program, the mayor along with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard all pointed to a study which claimed over 25 percent of all vehicles were exceeding the speed limit at seven intersections.

Mayor Emanuel says “I hope I get no revenue from this.” CDOT chief Gabe Klein claims the goal is just to get drivers to slow down. Whether or not pedestrian safety is improved and the lives of children are saved may be unanswerable questions. However, if the data from these speed enforcement studies are to be believed, one thing that can be determined is that speed cameras will generate significant revenue for the City of Chicago.

CDOT’s Spring Speed Enforcement Study

CDOT conducted a study of seven approaches at intersections with red light cameras to document the number of cars speeding through those locations over a two month period this past spring from April 1 through May 31st.

An approach by definition is just one leg of an intersection. Most intersections have four approaches, one for each direction. Although as Chicago drivers know, the city has a handful of six-approach intersections. Typically, intersections with red light camera enforcement have at least two approaches with cameras and in rare occasions three.

The study monitored the speed of vehicles only during weekdays from 6am to 11am and then from noon until 4pm. During the nine hours per day over the course of 43 days, cameras recorded 1,418,797 vehicles passing through the seven approaches.

While the city’s report said nearly 26 percent of all vehicles were exceeding the speed limit, only 9 percent — or 131,034 vehicles — exceeded it by the 5 MPH threshold. In other words, if speed cameras were enforcing during this two-month period, 131,034 drivers would have been issued tickets totaling $13.1 million in fines.

Revenue Could Reach Hundreds Of Millions

While a hefty amount of cash, the revenue picture gets even brighter for Chicago when you apply the currently proposed hours and days of enforcement to the city’s study. The current version of the speed enforcement bill would allow Chicago to have speed camera enforcement seven days a week from 6am until midnight — 18 hours a day — not the paltry nine hours during weekdays the study covered.

Extrapolating the numbers provided in CDOT’s study, based on 48 violations per hour per approach, each camera would produce 864 violations a day or 25,920 citations and potential fines of $2.6 million for the first month. All seven cameras would produce an estimated 181,440 speeding citations or $18 million for that month.

Projecting future revenues is slightly more challenging, as estimates must take into consideration the effect of camera enforcement on driver behavior. The assumption is motorists would alter behavior with the knowledge that enforcement is occurring. Of course, after a few $100 tickets in the mail, people will learn the camera locations, brake before passing them, and violations will decrease over time — but never completely disappear.

Using CDOT’s red light camera violations in 2010 as a model, monthly totals for red light running can be seen to be dropping by an average of 5.3 percent per month for the last seven months of that year after CDOT stopped adding more cameras to the program.

Applying a regression to the mean to the projected initial numbers, the first twelve months of enforcement where fines would be issued, from just these seven locations would still produce 1,503,311 speed violations or $150 million in fines — a dollar amount that far exceeds the total revenue generated by the all 382 red light cameras every year. The numbers were discounted by 6 percent every month as violations will fall over time.

As further context, the city issued 767,603 total red light camera citations in 2010, close to half of what these the seven cameras in CDOT’s study are estimated to produce. In even broader terms, CDOT confirms 79 intersections or 158 cameras would fall within a school or park “safety zone” to qualify for speed enforcement under the current bill.

Without more traffic data at the 79 intersections in question, it would be difficult to produce an accurate estimate of what kind of revenue speed cameras could produce. But based on Chicago’s own numbers, it is safe to say hundreds of millions of dollars could be generated per year by a speed enforcement program of this magnitude.

“It’s blatantly about revenue,” said camera opponent Brian Costin. “They’re using kids to generate revenue.”

Costin, who works for the Illinois Policy Institute, helped bring down suburban Schaumburg’s red light camera program a few years ago. He believes Chicago has a questionable record when it comes to traffic safety and is worried how far the program would expand.

“I am gravely concerned when the city of Chicago says they’re doing something to improve traffic safety,” says Costin. “Their track record it horrible. You can tell it’s not really about safety when you look at the hours of operation (proposed hours of enforcement) are not during just school hours but when most people drive to maximize revenue.”

2006 Study Shows Speeding Violations Would Far Outpace red light camera Tickets

CDOT did two previous studies back in 2006 and 2008 where they found that speeding violations documented by red light cameras far exceeded red light violations. In 2006, one red light camera at the intersection of Kedzie and 79th documented speeding seven days a week, 24 hours a day for a three month period from January 10th through April 9th. Over that three month period, the camera issued 398 red light camera violations, but caught 13,995 drivers exceeding the speed limit according to the report from CDOT. That breaks down to 35 speeding violations for every one red light camera violation. This report did not break down speeding incidents by how fast the vehicle exceeded the speed limit, so it is impossible to tell how many vehicles exceeded the 5 MPH threshold to earn a $100 fine.

Another study done in 2008 monitored two Southside intersections on Western Ave. with speed cameras between September 30th and October 25, documenting speeding from 6am to 6pm. This study paints an even uglier picture as 23 percent of the 85,231 vehicles detected over the course of the study, or 19,660 of drivers were driving 5 MPH over the speed limit.

While the debate on whether a speed enforcement program will improve pedestrian safety will continue, it’s safe to say Mayor Emanuel could tap a revenue stream that could speed the city out of debt. Multiple calls and emails to CDOT for comment over the past week by The Expired Meter were not returned.

Detailed coverage of Chicago motoring issues can be found at The Expired Meter.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Chicago, Illinois Speed Camera Plan Could Dwarf Red Light Revenue appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/chicago-illinois-speed-camera-plan-could-dwarf-red-light-revenue/feed/ 19
California Appeal Court Limits Traffic Stop Automobile Searches http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/california-appeal-court-limits-traffic-stop-automobile-searches/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/california-appeal-court-limits-traffic-stop-automobile-searches/#comments Mon, 07 Nov 2011 14:48:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=417022 Refusing to get out of a vehicle during a traffic stop does not justify a search of the automobile, the California Court of Appeal ruled Friday. The three-judge panel further developed the US Supreme Court’s finding in Arizona v. Gant that arresting a motorist does not automatically authorize a warrantless search. On September 27, 2009, Vernon Evans […]

The post California Appeal Court Limits Traffic Stop Automobile Searches appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Refusing to get out of a vehicle during a traffic stop does not justify a search of the automobile, the California Court of Appeal ruled Friday. The three-judge panel further developed the US Supreme Court’s finding in Arizona v. Gant that arresting a motorist does not automatically authorize a warrantless search.

On September 27, 2009, Vernon Evans made a left hand turn from West Boulevard onto Slauson Avenue. Los Angeles Police Department Officer Kevin Currie and Officer Prodigalidad claimed Evans failed to signal and that his driving was erratic. When they pulled Evans over, he appeared nervous. Because the stop was at night and in “gang territory,” Evans was ordered out of the car. Evans rolled down his window and asked why he was being stopped, but did not exit.

After reinforcements arrived Officer Currie blasted Evans with pepper spray. Another officer busted a window and tasered Evans. He was yanked out of his car and tackled on the ground. Officer Prodigalidad searched the car and found eleven empty sandwich bags and $65 in cash. The automobile was impounded while Evans was treated at the hospital. At the impound lot, a more thorough search of the car turned up enough cocaine to earn him a four-day jail sentence, with credit for four days time served.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge found the search was justified under the “automobile exception” to the Fourth Amendment requirement that searches should be performed only after obtaining a warrant. The appellate court disagreed, citing the precedent set by the Gant ruling that a search incident to arrest is only valid if the suspect can reach his vehicle or there is some reason to think the car contains evidence relevant to the arrest.

“When the initial search of the vehicle was completed, Evans had been tased and detained, and was lying face down on the ground outside the vehicle, with officers on top of him,” Judge Richard D. Aldrich wrote for the court. “Plainly, he did not have access to the car’s interior.”

Prosecutors argued that the presence of drugs in the car would constitute his motive for his crime — refusing to comply with the police officers’ instruction for him to get out of the car. The appellate panel rejected this line of argument as justifying a search of any vehicle at any time.

“It is not difficult to imagine scenarios in which documentary evidence of motive, knowledge, or intent could reasonably be expected to be found in a car even when the driver is arrested for a minor traffic offense,” Aldrich wrote. “There might be evidence of a speeding motorist’s motive in the car: perhaps an appointment card showing he or she was late to a doctor’s visit, or tickets suggesting he or she was in a hurry to attend the final game of the World Series. Or, a vehicle might contain evidence of distractions that caused a motorist to run a red light. Yet these are precisely the sort of traffic offenses which Gant held would not give rise to a reasonable basis to search.”

Because the exceptions did not apply, the court overturned the conviction. A copy of the decision is available in a 180k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File California v. Evans (Court of Appeal, State of California, 11/4/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post California Appeal Court Limits Traffic Stop Automobile Searches appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/california-appeal-court-limits-traffic-stop-automobile-searches/feed/ 2
Oregon Appeals Court: Sleep Driving Does Not Excuse DUI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/oregon-appeals-court-sleep-driving-does-not-excuse-dui/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/oregon-appeals-court-sleep-driving-does-not-excuse-dui/#comments Fri, 04 Nov 2011 14:19:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416891 An Oregon man attempted to escape conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) by claiming he was “sleep driving” and not responsible for his actions. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals shut down the argument as utterly irrelevant. Even if what he said were true, driving while drunk […]

The post Oregon Appeals Court: Sleep Driving Does Not Excuse DUI appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

An Oregon man attempted to escape conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) by claiming he was “sleep driving” and not responsible for his actions. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals shut down the argument as utterly irrelevant. Even if what he said were true, driving while drunk and asleep would still be a crime.

James Robert Newman left his car at his apartment and walked to a restaurant to have dinner and drinks with friends. Those friends then offered Newman a ride home. Later that evening, a police officer saw Newman’s car turn left without signaling, run a red light and drive down the middle of the street. When the officer turned on his overhead lights, Newman pulled over. He reeked of alcohol and failed the standard battery of field sobriety tests. He was taken to the station where he blew 0.15 on a breathalyzer.

“At trial, defendant admitted that he was intoxicated but sought to present evidence that he did not consciously drive or control his car,” Presiding Judge Darleen Ortega wrote. “He testified that he was not aware of leaving his apartment, going to his car, starting the car, or driving it. According to defendant, after he went to sleep that evening, the next thing he was aware of was the police car lights flashing behind him.”

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen M. Dailey was not interested in hearing this evidence as it was not relevant. Newman appealed, insisting he should have been allowed to present his case. For the sake of argument, the appellate judges considered whether it would make a difference were Newman’s claims accepted as true. The judges looked to determine whether the legislature intended DUI to be a crime requiring one be aware of his actions, having a “culpable mental state.” A general state statute, ORS 161.085, requires requires an intentional act for someone to be criminally liable, but the courts have interpreted this to allow the legislature to create exceptions.

The state supreme court considered the mental state issue in a 1990 case Oregon v. Miller. The justices found that in 70 years, no court ruling or legislative act had ever required the state to prove the driver was acting intentionally to convict for DUI.

“Defendant’s arguments for reconsidering Miller are properly addressed to the Supreme Court, not to this court,” Ortega wrote. “We agree with the trial court that DUII is a strict liability offense and that, therefore, the evidence concerning defendant’s mental state is irrelevant. Affirmed.”

A copy of the decision is available in a 30k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Oregon v. Newman (Court of Appeals, State of Oregon, 11/2/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Oregon Appeals Court: Sleep Driving Does Not Excuse DUI appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/oregon-appeals-court-sleep-driving-does-not-excuse-dui/feed/ 3
Another Florida City Settles Suit Over Illegal Photo Ticketing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/another-florida-city-settles-suit-over-illegal-photo-ticketing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/another-florida-city-settles-suit-over-illegal-photo-ticketing/#comments Wed, 02 Nov 2011 14:38:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416606 Many Florida municipalities now regret jumping the gun and installing red light cameras before the state legislature authorized their use in 2010. The Hallandale Beach city commission will vote later today to approve a settlement of $375,566 to be repaid to vehicle owners who were mailed tickets before the program was actually legal. American Traffic Solutions (ATS), […]

The post Another Florida City Settles Suit Over Illegal Photo Ticketing appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Many Florida municipalities now regret jumping the gun and installing red light cameras before the state legislature authorized their use in 2010. The Hallandale Beach city commission will vote later today to approve a settlement of $375,566 to be repaid to vehicle owners who were mailed tickets before the program was actually legal. American Traffic Solutions (ATS), which controlled the program, will pay $43,221 — its proportional share of the amount.

Attorney Jason D. Weisser had filed a lawsuit against Hallandale Beach, its vendor ATS and all of the other towns that jumped the photo ticketing gun. He argued the city and ATS were guilty of unjust enrichment and the tort of conversion. Fearing legal defeat, Pembroke Pines was among the first to settle in June. Partial refunds will now be given to “all who have been cited and paid fines to the defendants prior to July 1, 2010 for violations of the ordinance.” ATS had already signed off on the deal in February.

“The stipulation is intended by the settling parties to fully, finally and forever resolve, discharge and settle the litigation and all released claims against all released persons,” the proposed settlement states. “The settling defendants have concluded that further conduct of the litigation would be protracted and expensive and that it is desirable that the litigation be fully and finally settled in the manner and upon the terms and conditions set forth in this stipulation. They also have taken into account the uncertainty and risks inherent in any litigation, especially in complex cases such as this litigation ”

Although it authorizes issuance of partial refunds, the settlement stipulates for legal reasons that neither Hallandale Beach nor ATS admit they ever did anything wrong. The settlement allows the city and ATS to pay thirty percent of the amount of money they collected — far less than they would have to pay than if they had gone to court and lost, as happened in Minneapolis, Minnesota over the same issue (view settlement). Settlement allows the city to escape the full cost of refunds and attorneys’ fees.

Cities that adopted the cameras may find themselves in more trouble as new members of the state legislature already have a House majority opposed to automated ticketing machines. Another push will be made to repeal the authorization in the next session.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Another Florida City Settles Suit Over Illegal Photo Ticketing appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/another-florida-city-settles-suit-over-illegal-photo-ticketing/feed/ 3
Paper Treated Differently Than Smartphones in Automobile Searches http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/paper-treated-differently-than-smartphones-in-automobile-searches/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/paper-treated-differently-than-smartphones-in-automobile-searches/#comments Tue, 01 Nov 2011 14:16:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416403 Motorists searched during a traffic stop may find their iPhone data electronically grabbed by police in ways that would not be possible or acceptable with written material. Some police departments, including the Michigan State Police, are equipped with a mobile forensics device able to extract images, videos, text messages and emails from smartphones. In some cases, […]

The post Paper Treated Differently Than Smartphones in Automobile Searches appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Motorists searched during a traffic stop may find their iPhone data electronically grabbed by police in ways that would not be possible or acceptable with written material. Some police departments, including the Michigan State Police, are equipped with a mobile forensics device able to extract images, videos, text messages and emails from smartphones. In some cases, the device is able to bypass password protection. Several states have been reluctant to curtail law enforcement access to this information.

In January the California Supreme Court ruled in California v. Diaz that a police officer did not need a warrant to read the text messages on a cell phone grabbed during a search incident to arrest. A Court of Appeal ruling in September (view opinion) found a Blackberry in an automobile was nothing more than a “container” subject to warrantless examination. Golden State lawmakers recoiled at the precedent being set and moved quickly to introduce legislation requiring police to obtain judicial approval before searching a phone. The state Senate approved the measure in June by a vote of 28-9 and the state Assembly unanimously passed it in August. Governor Jerry Brown (D), however, used his veto power last month to prevent the measure from becoming law.

“I am returning Senate Bill 914 without my signature,” Brown wrote in his message to the Senate. “The courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizures protections.”

Nationwide, the courts do not agree on how such cases should be handled. On Tuesday, New York’s Supreme Court, Appellate Division ruled that police had no right to read a driver’s paper notebook during a search. The case began when a Suffolk County Police officer pulled over Cristobal Perez for driving while talking on his cell phone and weaving in his lane. Perez had been operating on a suspended license, so his car was impounded. Police did not wait to ask a judge for a warrant before reading the papers found in the vehicle. The state’s second-highest court saw no reason why law enforcement could not wait for a judge.

“Here, the police officer’s initial entry of the defendant’s impounded car to leaf through notebooks located in the back seat was an unjustified unconstitutional search, and the notebooks and any information gleaned therein by the officer must be suppressed,” the unanimous court ruled. “Further, the plain view doctrine does not apply, because the incriminating character of the notebooks was not immediately apparent.”

Lawmakers in the Empire State have not addressed the issue of electronic searches. A copy of the New York decision is available in an 85k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File New York v. Perez (New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 10/25/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Paper Treated Differently Than Smartphones in Automobile Searches appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/paper-treated-differently-than-smartphones-in-automobile-searches/feed/ 7
Austin, Texas Explores Smartphone App For “Vigilante Meter Maids” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/austin-texas-explores-smartphone-app-for-vigilante-meter-maids/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/austin-texas-explores-smartphone-app-for-vigilante-meter-maids/#comments Mon, 31 Oct 2011 14:07:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416160 Residents of Austin, Texas may soon have the power to issue parking tickets by taking a few photographs of someone else’s car with their smartphones. A unanimous council voted on October 20 to explore the concept of deputizing vigilante meter maids using an iPhone app. Disabled advocates pushed the program at the council meeting in […]

The post Austin, Texas Explores Smartphone App For “Vigilante Meter Maids” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Residents of Austin, Texas may soon have the power to issue parking tickets by taking a few photographs of someone else’s car with their smartphones. A unanimous council voted on October 20 to explore the concept of deputizing vigilante meter maids using an iPhone app. Disabled advocates pushed the program at the council meeting in the hopes of guaranteeing easier parking. They were joined by others who were just interested in writing the $511 tickets.

“I am a community policer from way back,” one resident said at the meeting. “I’m also one of the first code compliance volunteers in my neighborhood… Low income people like me can’t even afford a cell phone, so I think if you’re going to allow this you should also expand this ordinance to include the ability of the police department and code compliance to purchase smartphones for their volunteers.”

Councilman Kathie Tovo noted a number of volunteers had already emailed looking to join the program. Under Texas Transportation Code Section 681.0101, cities may deputize volunteer meter maids who swear an oath after taking a four-hour class before they can start ticketing.

“I can’t help but think that there’s some solution that does involve the use of smartphone technology putting those powers in the hands of citizens and enabling them to help the city extend its reach to do a better job of enforcing handicapped parking restrictions,” Councilman Chris Riley said.

The non-profit group Parking Mobility, created by George Soros-funded organizations, created the Android, Blackberry and iPhone parking ticket app which encourages cities to adopt the program because they can “generate revenue.” The system requires a person take three photographs of the alleged violator — one of the license plate, one of the windshield and one showing the car and the handicapped parking sign. The software sends the photos and the GPS location to the city so it can issue the expensive ticket.

“There’s really no better enforcement tool than our citizens policing themselves,” Councilman Mike Martinez said. “I think the merits of this program deserve our support.”

The council ordered the city manager to create a report on the feasibility of the program within ninety days.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Austin, Texas Explores Smartphone App For “Vigilante Meter Maids” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/austin-texas-explores-smartphone-app-for-vigilante-meter-maids/feed/ 15
Missouri Appeals Court Sides with Red Light Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/missouri-appeals-court-sides-with-red-light-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/missouri-appeals-court-sides-with-red-light-cameras/#comments Sun, 30 Oct 2011 16:44:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416090 A Missouri appellate court judge with family ties to the red light camera industry yesterday led the charge to save photo ticketing programs from legal attack. In a per curiam decision, Eastern District Presiding Judge Robert G. Dowd Jr and two colleagues upheld the ticket issued by American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to motorist Mary Nottebrok […]

The post Missouri Appeals Court Sides with Red Light Cameras appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

A Missouri appellate court judge with family ties to the red light camera industry yesterday led the charge to save photo ticketing programs from legal attack. In a per curiam decision, Eastern District Presiding Judge Robert G. Dowd Jr and two colleagues upheld the ticket issued by American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to motorist Mary Nottebrok in Creve Coeur on August 11, 2009.

“Ordinance Number 315.140 did not prohibit ‘running a red light;’ rather, Ordinance Number 315.140 prohibited the presence of a vehicle in an intersection when the traffic control signal for that intersection was emitting a steady red signal for the direction of travel or orientation of the vehicle,” the decision stated in defense of Creve Coeur’s photo enforcement ordinance.

An ATS camera photographed a car belonging to Mary Nottebrok near the offramp for Interstate 270 and Olive Boulevard. ATS demanded payment of $100 based on the alleged violation of an ordinance whose legality is under question because the Missouri legislature has refused to authorize the use of photo enforcement in the state.

Nottebrok moved to have her case dismissed on the grounds that the ordinance is not just unauthorized, but it also conflicts with a state law requiring points to be applied to the license of anyone convicted of running a red light. Most photo ticketing programs outside of Arizona and California do not assess points because of the extra work and cost involved in identifying the driver of a vehicle.

This argument follows reasoning found in a 2005 memo from Stinson Morrison Hecker, ATS’s own law firm. A March 2010 state supreme court ruling (view opinion) struck down Springfield’s red light camera program over its administrative hearing procedures, noting that red light camera violations are moving violations — which is to say, they are not like parking tickets. The Eastern District Court of Appeals, led by Judge Dowd, saw red light camera tickets as exactly like parking tickets.

“Consistent with the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Kansas City v. Hertz Corporation, Missouri law provides that a municipal ordinance can impose liability on a vehicle owner if another person parks or operates the vehicle in violation of the ordinance,” the decision stated.

The court presumed Creve Coeur’s ordinance was valid on its own terms.

“[State law] required the assessment of points for any moving violation of a municipal ordinance not specifically listed in the statute,” the decision conceded. “However, the plain language of Ordinance No. 315.140 indicated that the city intended a violation of the ordinance to be classified as a non-moving violation.”

Judge Dowd was previously with the family’s law firm Dowd and Dowd, along with his cousin, Edward L. Dowd Jr, who was a paid advocate for automated ticketing. Edward Dowd now serves as a spokesman for Missouri Families for Safer Roads, a public relations front group funded entirely by ATS. Edward Dowd is also a registered lobbyist for ATS.

A copy of the ruling is available in a 300k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Creve Coeur v. Nottebrok (Court of Appeals, State of Missouri, 10/25/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Missouri Appeals Court Sides with Red Light Cameras appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/missouri-appeals-court-sides-with-red-light-cameras/feed/ 5
Washington: Report Finds Red Light Camera Installation Unjustified http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/washington-report-finds-red-light-camera-installation-unjustified/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/washington-report-finds-red-light-camera-installation-unjustified/#comments Sat, 29 Oct 2011 16:59:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416053 A report released last week by the engineering firm Gibson Traffic Consultants (GTC) found the use of red light cameras unjustified in Bellingham, Washington. The study gathered collision data from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the city to conclude the use of an automated ticketing machine at the intersection of Guide Meridian […]

The post Washington: Report Finds Red Light Camera Installation Unjustified appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

A report released last week by the engineering firm Gibson Traffic Consultants (GTC) found the use of red light cameras unjustified in Bellingham, Washington. The study gathered collision data from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the city to conclude the use of an automated ticketing machine at the intersection of Guide Meridian Road at Telegraph Road was unwarranted.

“Based on the five years of collision data obtained from WSDOT and the city of Bellingham, the collision data does not support the introduction of red-light cameras,” GTC traffic engineer Matt Palmer wrote. “Per the ITE collected statistics it only has the potential to reduce at angle red-light running collisions by a less than 1 per year but increase rear ends by an average of nearly 5 per year for this particular intersection.”

The report argues that proper engineering practices require jurisdictions to install photo enforcement only after performing an engineering evaluation and exhausting all possible countermeasures, including adjusting the length of the yellow light and improving signal visibility. Bellingham performed no study before deciding to allow American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to install and operate the camera. Instead, it made the decision after ATS found 34 potential tickets after eight hours of monitoring.

“The reason to conduct such investigation and corrections before resorting to additional enforcement such as red-light cameras is that research has shown that although additional enforcement might reduce the number of potential at angle collisions; it could also increase, rear-end collision frequency,” Palmer wrote.

GTC found in its review that over the course of five years, only one collision was specifically linked to someone running a red light. On the other hand, there were 78 rear-end collisions — two-thirds of the total number of accidents. Making the rear end accident situation worse would make the location more dangerous, not less dangerous.

“With no fatalities or injuries related to the at angle collisions but 30 injuries related to rear end collisions it is anticipated that the proposed red-light camera would not reduce the collision/injury potential of the intersection and potentially increase the collision/injury potential at this particular location,” Palmer concluded.

Photo ticketing in the city is on hold while pending the outcome of an initiative vote on November 8. The Transportation Safety Coalition succeeded in placing a referendum on red light camera use on the ballot, although ATS was able to convince an appellate court to convert the measure into an advisory vote. The coalition commissioned the GTC study.

A copy of the study is available in a 600k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Red Light Camera Review 11-090 (Gibson Traffic Consultants, 10/17/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The post Washington: Report Finds Red Light Camera Installation Unjustified appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/washington-report-finds-red-light-camera-installation-unjustified/feed/ 3
California: Despite “Voluntary” Citations, LA County Rakes in Millions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/california-despite-voluntary-citations-la-county-rakes-in-millions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/california-despite-voluntary-citations-la-county-rakes-in-millions/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2011 12:13:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=415994 After news spread that paying a red light camera tickets in Los Angeles County, California is optional, the average number of people paying citations declined by nearly a third. According to an analysis of Los Angeles County Superior Court payment transaction count and revenue data by TheNewspaper, the state, Los Angeles County, municipalities and photo […]

The post California: Despite “Voluntary” Citations, LA County Rakes in Millions appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

After news spread that paying a red light camera tickets in Los Angeles County, California is optional, the average number of people paying citations declined by nearly a third. According to an analysis of Los Angeles County Superior Court payment transaction count and revenue data by TheNewspaper, the state, Los Angeles County, municipalities and photo enforcement vendors are losing $1 million per month following the revelation that there is no penalty for tossing a mailed ticket in the trash. The news broke as part of the hearing process while Los Angeles municipal officials debated whether to shut off automated ticketing machines in the City of the Angels.

“What we have here is truly a voluntary citation program,” Los Angeles Police Commissioner Alan J. Skobin said at a June 7 meeting. “It’s voluntary because there’s no teeth in it and there’s no enforcement mechanism.”

The city of Los Angeles ultimately decided to wind down its red light camera program in July, but twenty-two other jurisdictions within the county are still issuing photo tickets. These include Beverly Hills, which pocketed $832,405.67 from May through September this year ($2 million on an annualized basis). Inglewood’s red light camera vendor collected on 2146 tickets worth over $1 million ($2.5 million on an annualized). The Metropolitan Transit Authority collected $515,838.81 in profit ($1.2 million annualized). Overall, the individual jurisdictions split $6.4 million in revenue between their general funds and special traffic funds. On an annualized basis, their profit from the near $500 fines is $15.4 million — but this figure does not count the cut for other governmental agencies.

Vehicle owners paid a total of 25,693 tickets to the superior court from May to September. That adds up to nearly $30 million a year in annual revenue, half of which goes to the state and county government, and the remainder is split between the municipalities and American Traffic Solutions, Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia and other vendors that do all the work of issuing the tickets.

Los Angeles Court raw citation data supplied courtesy of highwayrobbery.net. A copy of the analysis is available in a 50k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Los Angeles County, CA Ticket Revenue (TheNewspaper, 10/24/2011)

Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com

The post California: Despite “Voluntary” Citations, LA County Rakes in Millions appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/california-despite-voluntary-citations-la-county-rakes-in-millions/feed/ 2