Asymmetric warfare

Massachusetts is moving towards digital traffic tickets, allowing police to fill out a ticket in seconds instead of minutes. You can plead guilty on the spot.

I understand why they want to do this, but having some friction in the system is important. Shouldn’t it take at least a few minutes to charge you $1,000 in fines and insurance surcharges?

In the 1990s Boston started mailing tickets to license plates, like red light cameras but without computers. That isn’t allowed in Massachusetts. Police didn’t care. They were practicing asymmetric warfare. It takes a few minutes to mail a ticket and several hours to contest a ticket. Most drivers paid the illegal tickets.

Finally the state Supreme Court said drivers could contest tickets with a few minutes on the phone instead of a few hours in court. Faced with a level playing field, Boston finally gave up. And has been requesting legislative approval for red light cameras ever since.

Massachusetts used to have a law requiring license suspension after three warnings. For a long time the RMV didn’t enforce the law because warnings didn’t go into their computer system. Who was going to complain that the RMV was breaking the law?

Finally they started tracking warnings for some reason or other and saw a problem. Not the obvious problem. RMV officials didn’t care about the absurdity of suspending licenses for warnings.

The law gave drivers the right to a hearing before license suspension. The RMV didn’t want the extra workload of listening to drivers’ complaints.

Politicians repealed the law to save the RMV from doing its job.

Your time in traffic court doesn’t matter, but a state worker’s late coffee break does. Your last paycheck doesn’t matter, but an agency’s budget-busting overtime does.

I want a speeding ticket to cost $100 of the department’s time. I want the officer to have to cancel his honeymoon to make a court date. I want the town to think about the cost of its actions rather than using officers like roadside bombs.

The opinions expressed in belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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