By on August 5, 2011

Companies that operate red light cameras and speed cameras are facing increasing opposition across the country. In response, the firms have adopted a strategy of suing cities that have second thoughts about continuing to use cameras in their community. They have also been going after their own customers to collect as much revenue as possible.

On December 1, Redflex filed suit against Tempe, Arizona in Maricopa county Superior Court claiming the city owed $1.3 million in per-ticket fees for each driver mailed a photo ticket who decided to go to traffic school. The city claims it only collected $1.8 million in revenue from the program, mostly because last year’s payment rate was just 31 percent. Drivers realize in increasing numbers that tickets in the state can be ignored unless they are properly served.

City officials reacted angrily to the Redflex move. On July 19, the photo ticketing operation was shutdown after a 4-3 city council vote earlier that month refused to renew the contract with Redflex. The company explained its hardball tactics in a February 25 report to shareholders on the Australian Securities Exchange.

“As a result of the macro economic challenges facing the US market throughout 2010, and the current politically challenging times, new contract executions have declined,” the Redflex report stated. “This financial year, Redflex has focused its efforts on strengthening its business model through tighter contract language, (and) more aggressive collection efforts in key markets.”

The main competitor to Redflex, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), has likewise been feeling the marketplace squeeze. Most recently, Los Angeles, California just terminated its red light camera program, costing the company millions. ATS lashed out at San Bernardino after its city council voted unanimously in March to cancel its photo ticketing contract with ATS before the 2014 expiration date. In an April letter, Police Chief Keith L. Kilmer offered to pay ATS CEO James Tuton $175,000 in accordance with Section 4.4 of the contract governing cancellation fees. ATS insisted that it will not allow San Bernardino to get out of the contract.

“The termination/cancellation fee is inapplicable here because Section 4.4 specifically provides for a termination and cancellation fee only ‘in the event of termination due to a breach by the municipality,'” ATS attorney Vanessa Soriano Power wrote in a May 4 letter to the city. “Thus, Section 4.4 applies only where ATS elects to terminate the agreement.”

ATS insists that San Bernardino must pay $1,896,202.05 to end photo ticketing.


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16 Comments on “Desperate Photo Enforcement Firms Sue Cities...”

  • avatar

    I’ve heard of aggressive litigation, but demanding “$1.3 million in per-ticket fees for each driver” surely must set a new high-water mark!

  • avatar

    So they want to have captive customers? They’re toast. That never works unless you have a monopolistic dictatorship – and we don’t.

  • avatar

    With so MANY USA geo-political entities facing extreme economin problems and, thus, the taxpayers within those cities/towns/hamlets the ones actually being harmed I can envision such massive anger against that firm attempting to shove their greedy grasping talons into the PEOPLE’S pockets that demand for declarations of TOTAL WAR be declared that perhaps Redflex will, perhaps, be confronted by battalions of Marines with sharp pointy things at the tip of their muskets advancing to destroy the enemy of We, the People.

    Or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

    Millions for offense and not a dracma for tribute.

    Smote them all and let somebody’s deity sort ’em out.

  • avatar

    Let me see if I understand this. Redflex and ATS insist they have a contract and the city must continue to hand out tickets despite not wanting to.

    Such a simple problem. The cameras can stay, but see if they actually are turned on or if the cities do anything with the tickets.

    Then this turns into a private company extracting money from drivers. sorry Redflex and ATS, you both are not deputized and not entitled to money.

    Things are probably different down in OZ. Any city planning to do business these demons should think of the consequences. Once voters arrive with pitchforks they might not be able to easily undo the damage.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      To make automated ticketing go away, all a city has to do is change trafic light operation and ticketing rules to reduce the probability of violating the law. Increase the time the light is yellow and quit ticketing drivers who stop too close to the intersection when making a right turn on red.

      • 0 avatar

        At that point I’d say the cameras are a good idea for catching the grossest of violators. They won’t make as much money, though, maybe not even enough to justify their existence.

      • 0 avatar


        Agreed. And at that point, at least the ticketing/cameras will finally become honest: they’ll be increasing traffic safety, not acting as a hidden tax.

        If the whole traffic camera (redlight and speed) were sincere, then cameras should serve only as the trigger for an investigation, not an automatically mailed ticket.

        That being said, I am strongly against any and all forms of automated traffic controls.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Advance-92, in the Duncanville, TX about 85% of red light camera tickets were given for right turn on red violations. Real world drivers making a right turn on red typically stop past the white stop bar but before the intersection so they can see if it’s safe to turn. Logical but technically illegal. Reduce the revenue potential and red light cameras probably go away.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, the city’s can comply with their contracts… but then enact legislation that taxes Redflex and ATS at 200% of total revenue.

      Those companies won’t exist very long if they have to pay 2 dollars for every one they take in…

    • 0 avatar

      Well, the city probably has to leave the cameras on … but I doubt that ATS can control the location of any new “Deer Crossing” signs. Hint hint.

  • avatar

    “This financial year, Redflex has focused its efforts on strengthening its business model through tighter contract language.”

    And good municipalities will seek to protect themselves with better contract terms or not enter into one at all given the recent anti-democracy actions by the red light scam operators.

    Of course, those city councils that like red light revenue and ignore their citizen’s voices will gladly agree to the most lopsided contracts that favor Redflex and ATS.

  • avatar

    why not spray paint the actual camera, problem solved not tickets issued, or shut the power off to the camera surely we control that.

  • avatar

    It continually surprises me that I don’t hear of more incidents of vandalism against these cameras.

    • 0 avatar

      Me too, because it is so easy. Around here, the equipment is from ATS and they use a soft aluminum housing for the equipment and it is at shoulder level. A cordless drill with a “Christmas Tree” bit can quickly make a hole. A small funnel and a container of muriatic acid bought at any True Value will quickly render the system inoperative. Or the power line that enters the box usually has a LB or Jake type of fitting. Just remove a screw and you can slide the cover out of the way and expose the wires. Take a pair of dykes and cut away. Don’t worry about 120V…you’ll short it to ground or neutral and that’t that…screw ’em. If they don’t play fair, why should we…

  • avatar

    Contract fraud is contract fraud, regardless of how much you dislike the contractor or his motives. I don’t really have a lot of sympathy for these cities that opened up contracts with ATS or Redflex and are now trying to weasel their way out of them because of popular pressure. They should have considered the political implications of such action before they put their names on the dotted line. What is happening now is in many cases blatant breach of contract, and like it or not ATS and Redflex are both well within their rights to sue for damages. I would rather see the law upheld than contract rights violated just so people can be more careless at intersections. Color me skeptical about all these anti-camera lobbyists who claim to be acting in the interests of democracy and the rule of law, and then turn around and demand that said laws be violated so that their agendas can be upheld.

    • 0 avatar

      Sure, they can sue.. But they can’t win. Tempe legally let its contract expire because there is no profit to be made with traffic cameras under Arizona law. Redflex pulled a Hugo Chavez when they tried to force Tempe to serve all its unpaid ticket violators in person (the only way they can legally collect around here) and failed miserably for obvious reasons. There was no ambiguity in the laws when Redflex started selling their snake oil- they simply thought they would be able to lobby (then Gov) Janet Napolitano to make the environment more conducive to the rape of AZ taxpayers.

      Go out of business Redflex. Do it soon.

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