Seven Ridiculous Ticket Camera Blunders
Officials in charge of red light camera and speed camera programs claim it is “rare” for erroneous tickets to be issued because a human police officer diligently verifies each and every citation for accuracy before it is issued. If confronted with clear evidence that their cameras have made a mistake, the camera companies insist that it’s an “isolated incident.” Here are seven of the more ridiculous “isolated incidents” from across the country:
7) It’s Never Too Late to Attempt a NASCAR Career
In 2008, a Montgomery County, Maryland, speed camera accused an elderly man of racing through a busy neighborhood at 100 MPH — during rush hour. The automated ticketing machine snapped two photos of a Toyota Echo economy car belonging to Silver Spring residents Terence Brennan, 68, and Helga Brennan, 76. Only after the local media got involved did Montgomery County admit that the camera, which had all the usual certifications of accuracy, was flat out wrong when it came to measuring speeds.
6) I Didn’t Go To Atlanta and All I Got Was this Lousy Ticket
In 2008, Hollywood, Florida resident Evelyn Singer received a ticket for running a red light in Atlanta. Singer responded with a certified letter explaining that her white Acura looked nothing like the black Pontiac committing the offense alleged in the ticket photograph. Moreover, she had not been to Atlanta in thirty-five years! While a Miami television station’s cameras were rolling, Singer later called to confirm whether the ticket had been canceled or not; the courthouse employees put her on hold or hung up. After several frustrating attempts, Singer reached a human and asked how often the cameras make mistakes. “It doesn’t really matter as far as what we’re trying to accomplish,” the unidentified Georgia courthouse official responded.
5) Ticket Cameras Are No Match for Photoshop
Last year, students at Montgomery High School in southern Maryland reprinted copies of vehicle license plates belonging to people they didn’t like, attached them to their own cars and drove past the nearby speed cameras at high rates of speed. This resulted in $40 fines to innocent victims of their choice.
4) Like Stephen Colbert, Ticket Cameras Don’t See Race
In 2006, Paul Stevens, another victim of a freeway ticket camera, noticed something strange. “When I looked at the picture [on the ticket] the male driving the car is Caucasian,” Stevens told a local television station in an interview. “As you can see I’m a Black-American.” Scottsdale wanted Stevens to pay $157 for driving 78 MPH on the 65 MPH freeway — even though neither the Camaro Z-28 in the photo, nor the vehicle’s license plate belonged to Stevens. To even the score, in 2008, the city of Lafayette, Louisiana, accused Alan Dukes, the Caucasian owner of a 2005 Honda motorcycle, of speeding. Yet the photograph of the alleged violation clearly showed a black man riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
3) When It Comes to Ticket Cameras, No Speed Is Impossible
In 2007, the city of Cleveland, Ohio, insisted that Christopher Johnson’s 56-year-old Korean War-era Blue Willys Jeep blasted past East 71st Street and Chester Avenue at 48 MPH on September 1, even though the military machines’s top speed is well below 35 MPH. When Johnson tried to resolve the problem through letters and phone calls, he was ignored. However, after a local newspaper called the Cleveland Municipal Court, Johnson’s ticket was quickly dismissed.
2) I’ve Heard of Cities Fishing for Tickets, But This Is Ridiculous…
On December 10, 2007, according to a ticket camera in Manhattan, Russell Falkena ran a red light. The city even sent him a $50 souvenir, in the form of a ticket, to mark the occasion. The photos accompanying the ticket showed a black SUV, with the license plate 3702PH, running the light. Mr. Falkena was understandably confused because he didn’t own a black SUV. He did have a fishing boat registered with that number, but that couldn’t have been the reason he was sent the ticket. But of course it was.
1) Oops, We Forgot to Construct the Sign
In 2007, a former police captain sued Albuquerque, New Mexico, to force the city to refund speed camera citations that were improperly issued. Leeper, who left the Albuquerque Police Department in 2006, had been accused of driving 42 MPH in a 40 MPH construction zone. The camera, however, had been set to ticket people exceeding 30 MPH, even though there was no 30 MPH sign posted. Leeper later teamed up with several other defendants and attorney Paul Livingston to demand refunds for up to 1300 motorists wrongly accused.
These seven examples of ticket camera errors are just the tip of the iceberg. A 60 MPH error in the speed reading is obvious to the public. But what about a five or ten mile per hour error accidentally — or deliberately — incorporated into the timing system? Who would ever know?
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