ATE Racket Report for December 5, 2018

The ATE Racket Report is a weekly feature of the NMA blog. We want to bring the issues of automated traffic enforcement to our supporters in a more coherent up-to-date fashion.  

Compiled by NMA Foundation Director James C. Walker and NMA Communications Director Shelia Dunn. 

This Week…

The NMA recently posted this guest blog from our Texas member H.F. Van Der Grinten who was an eyewitness at the state Supreme Court proceedings on the most recent red-light camera case. He has actively been opposing RLCs for over 10 years and is the founder of the Houston Coalition Against Red Light Cameras.

The French yellow vests protests against speed cameras have spread all over France. TheNewspaper.com reports that the protest is also spreading to other countries such Australia, Belgium, Martinique, and South Africa. The French Protests have also expanded to tolls and the increase in the gas tax. On Tuesday, the French President suspended the 25 cent increase in the fuel tax to hopefully quell the yellow vest protesters. Big Question: Would American motorists ever put themselves on the line for their rights like this?

Sacramento County Welfare Division terminates their Automated License Plate Reader (ALPRs) program put in place to catch welfare frauds. This announcement follows an investigation by the Electronic Frontier Foundation who found that the agency was using driver data without enacting the basic civil liberties safeguards required by the state of California. Very Good News and Thank you EFF!

In Miami-Dade County, Florida, a judge ruled last week that all cities in the county need to have uniform rules in regards to red-light cameras (RLCs) before enforcing violations. 16 cities/towns in the county have different rules and the different regulations vary when it comes to speed and where the violation actually occurs. The plaintiff’s attorney (an Aventura driver) argued that motorists are unaware of the different rules in each city and a standard should be set. The case went directly to Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeals but there is a real possibility that thousands of RLC tickets could be wiped out. Police say don’t hold your breath though since this case might take years and eventually wind up before the state supreme court.

In a press release, The Ticket Clinic, the plaintiff’s attorney announced that they also had another victory in the city of Tamarac. The city decided to dismiss all RLC camera violation tickets prior to May 1, 2018 due to a huge back up of cases—this is why it is so important to fight any and all tickets including ones received by automated traffic enforcement.

Nice opinion piece in the New Orleans paper The Advocate: East Baton Rouge, Louisiana government bungles ‘Big Brotherish’ red-light camera program.

Some interesting news coming out of Wilmington, North Carolina: North Carolina: Engineering board rules Wilmington’s red-light cameras installed in violation of state law. TheNewspaper.com went further and said that American Traffic Solutions was also slammed for unlicensed engineering. Oops!

Wait and See…

Chicago DOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld announced last week during a speech at the City Club that she is interested in using automated traffic cameras to catch drivers who block the box or designated bus lanes. She cannot do this however without a change in state law.

Calgary Police asked their city council last week to allow revenue from automated traffic enforcement to be used to help hire 24 extra police officers. The city is still considering the budget request.

Bad News…

Fastcompany.com posted a story last week that said the US has a shadow surveillance apparatus…Scary!

The city of Crestview, Florida has installed its red-light cameras but they have not yet been activated. The city still needs to hire a hearing officer, an attorney who will act on the behalf of the city if a motorist contests his or her ticket.

Roswell, Georgia has been working to lower their speed limits in various neighborhoods and the city’s transportation department will soon be submitting a request to authorize the use of speed cameras by the Police Department.

Oak Forest, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) has renewed its red-light camera contract with Sensys/Gatso USA Inc. through 2020. The cams are used only at two intersections along Cicero Avenue.

New Orleans officials announced earlier this week that they are ramping up their surveillance cameras (public and private) in the city for their new Real-Time Crime Center.

The Baltimore posted a story with the headline that says it all: Crashes continue to get worse in Baltimore, even as traffic cameras expand.

City of Kent, Ohio will install 11 red-light cameras next year. City officials are already foaming at the mouth on how much cash this will bring (estimated one to two million per year).

Erie, Pennsylvania PD has replaced its ALPR. The new one can scan 6000 plates every 24 hours.

Regina, Canada has restarted its red-light camera program. Currently, drivers will receive a warning but beginning February 1, tickets will be $230.

NMA’s City/State Lists of RLCs and Speed Cameras

The NMA has compiled a list of which states and cities are using red-light and speed cameras. This may not be a complete list and please send any additions or subtractions to the nma@motorists.org for updating the list.

Jim Walker’s ATE Commentary of the Week

The NMA does not condone riots and violence as seen in France opposing reduced speed limits, more tolls and higher gas taxes. That said, if Americans were as vocal and active as the French people are when authorities over-reach in abusive ways, we likely wouldn’t have any for-profit speed and red-light camera rackets.

Sacramento ended ALPRs with a lack of civil liberty safeguards. As we have said before, ALPRs can be used to get real criminals off the streets and find stolen vehicles. But there MUST be safeguards and authorities must not keep databases of plate numbers that do not get “hits” as suspicious for some valid reason.

Legal opposition moves against red-light cameras are finding more success lately as in Miami-Dade County & Tamarac in Florida, plus the big win from the engineering board against Wilmington, North Carolina.

Allowing police in Calgary, Alberta to get a direct revenue share from the for-profit speed and red-light camera rackets would virtually guarantee corruption. Police would be almost certain to try to influence the numbers and locations of cameras to maximize profits. Police should NEVER directly share in ticket revenues of any kind.

The “Hearings” for challenged red-light camera rackets like the coming one in Crestview are almost always a total joke – NOT a system of justice. The hearing officers are almost always paid by the cities that get the loot from the for-profit rackets; they are NOT unbiased magistrates or judges that have no stake in the profits.

We have made gains in many places to get ticket cameras taken down, but some cities are adding or expanding programs as we see under the Bad News … section.

Baltimore is one of the ultimate examples showing the cameras do NOT work to improve safety. Money, MORE MONEY and EVEN MORE MONEY are the goals. Safety was never any part of the motivation for the camera rackets in Baltimore. And remember, they are on their third set of camera contractors because the first two abjectly failed in several ways to run anything like legitimate programs.

James C. Walker is a life member of the National Motorists Association. He is also a board member and executive director of the National Motorists Association Foundation.

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