Home values were skyrocketing, job markets were booming, and the tax coffers were overflowing with cash. The county I worked for dropped millions of tax dollars on these cameras. Overnight, there was a camera on every damn light at every major intersection. Of course, they went on a media blitz and lauded this as the next big thing in public safety. Ignoring the few of us with a brain and the logical reasoning abilities beyond that of a crayon that were pretty sure this was actually going to cause more accidents. If someone comes to a yellow light that they know has a camera, they are either going to gun it to try and beat the camera or lock their breaks up to try and stop in time. Let alone the legal questions that arose. They also didnt take into account the massive operating costs that these cash cameras would incur. The maintenance fund alone was tapped out after the first few months into their first year of operation. So, guess what happened?
Traffic accidents at intersections with cameras increased by approximately 30%. Anyone with an elementary understanding of law could see that enforcement of these citations would not be upheld when their constitutionality was challenged in court. The government I worked for quickly discovered this after their multi-million dollar investment. If you received a traffic camera ticket and didn't dispose of it, unlike other traffic tickets, they could no longer put a bench warrant out for your arrest. All they could do was put a tax lien on any property you might have. So basically unenforceable, except for around tax time when they would just collect from your filing. This is not the case everywhere.
This didn't bother them too much, because the vast majority of people would rather pay the $50 fine online and be done with it. No one wants to take the time to go to court, plead not guilty, and wait for another court date. That's a total of 2 days off work, minimum, to handle a lousy $50 ticket. They know this, and they count on this. A fellow crosser of the blue line has written an excellent read right here that's definitely worth your time. If people knew how easy it would be to cripple the traffic courts, we might not be in the situation we currently find ourselves in.
So, down to the brass tax. You've gotten a traffic camera ticket. You have received a warning from the government that because you crossed an imaginary line that you are subject to legal extortion. If you fail to pay your penance, you face imprisonment in a cage. If you still refuse to submit your will to the state deity, have no doubt, they will send someone like me and he will kill you. That $50 fine isn't sounding so bad now, is it?
This article has been floating around the web for a while now. It is the best guide for dealing with a traffic camera ticket in my opinion. You can modify his response to tailor to any camera initiated citation. Remember, the burden of proof lies on the state. You are not required to prove your innocence. They must prove you guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you're not familiar with legal terminology, reasonable doubt is the highest burden of proof for the state. It means just what it says, a prosecutor must prove you're guilty beyond any reasonable doubt any juror might have. If a doubt exists in a jurors mind, they must be instructed to vote not guilty. This is very different than the preponderance of evidence, which is typically the burden of proof in civil trials. This is where the scales of justice analogy come in, where 51% would be enough to swing in a plaintiffs favor in such cases.
I recommend reading the articles linked to above. A lot of really good information. Below is the letter sent in from the ballsy revolutionary from our second article to his supreme overlords concerning his death threats received by mail. Couldn't have said it better myself.
To Whom it May Concern,
I received a letter claiming I committed a violation of a speeding law in the District of Columbia on 04/21/2012. As per the instructions, I am writing to plead ‘not guilty’ to this charge. Although this option is said to result in this matter going to court; it is my suggestion that the charges simply be dropped. This suggestion comes out of respect for tax payers, and my request that their hard earned money not be wasted in such proceedings. As there is no evidence of my involvement with this alleged ‘crime’, as well as the fact that I am not granted my 6th amendment right to face my ‘accuser’ (a camera); I see no way the government could prove my guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I also see find no legal requirement for me to implicate someone else in this process, as it is the government’s responsibility to prove a person’s guilt. It is also my 5th amendment right to remain silent on the matter.If it is the government’s decision to move forward in this matter, I would request copies of any evidence the prosecution may have of my involvement in the “offense”; as well as, all maintenance records for the camera(s) involved.
So there you have it. Fairly simple information that can easily be transferred to real world action. Every time I was in court and someone requested maintenance records, the case was immediately dismissed. The county shut down the camera a few years back. Once people realized how easy they were to beat in court, the revenue stream they had initially brought in started to slow. As years went by, the maintenance had grown from tedious at best, to down right impossible. They were simply malfunctioning quicker than they could fix them.