This is a fact of life—driving a car is still currently the most efficient way an individual can travel from point A to point B to point C and back to A again. Each day, we drive to work, school or play. Most of us probably like to drive and when we don’t, it usually has to do with the hassles of driving; bad roads, traffic congestion and bad traffic laws. Luckily, we can still move freely and go about our business. At least for now…
Because there are so many motorists on the road and everyone has to deal with the same hassles of driving, we have become complacent. We take driving for granted. After all, motorists are one of the largest special interest groups in the world. There are over 250 million motorists in the United States. Motorists’ rights might seem abstract to many but motorists should never take their rights for granted.
Rights are not always a given and someone before you had to fight for the rights and freedoms we all enjoy now. They put thought, time, and effort in using the civic tools available to bring together these rights and freedoms for themselves and future generations. Motorists’ rights should be on every driver’s agenda. Just one person can make a difference.
Russel J. Bowman of Texas has certainly made a difference.
As reported last week in THE NEWSPAPER.COM, Bowman received a deadbeat red-light camera ticket letter in November 2014 from Redflex Traffic Systems. The letter called him a “scofflaw” and informed him that his car registration would be placed on hold if he didn’t pay up. Bowman had no idea of this violation which had allegedly occurred two years before in 2012. Bowman also said he had no reason to ever be in Richardson, Texas, a city of nearly 100,000 citizens inside Dallas & Collin County.
Ticked off about this letter and the whole situation, Bowman decided to do something about it. As a lawyer he logged at least 96 hours of his own time to generate over 700 pages of documents and legal arguments against the city of Richardson’s automated ticket program. Bowman deducted that the city of Richardson’s photo enforcement ordinance conflicted with the Texas Constitution’s enhanced protection of due process.
Bowman also learned (after a Judge compelled the city to turn over documents) that the city of Richardson did not perform any traffic engineering studies on these red-light camera or RLC intersections nor did city officials convene a citizen’s advisory committee to review any location selected for RLC enforcement. Under Texas law, both of these were requirements before a local municipality could set up a RLC program.
Finally, last month Dallas County District Court Judge Dale Tillery ruled that the city of Richardson’s red-light camera program was not only unconstitutional, but ordered the city to pay Bowman $27,500 for time spent on the case plus an additional $10,000 in case the city appeals.
Now, you might say this was an extreme case of advocacy but not necessarily. Bowman was not going to put up with such shenanigans and had some expertise in the law. He used his talent to challenge a bad ticket and made a change in one Texas town. Just think if every motorist would speak up for their rights like Bowman… Every motorist has a voice like Bowman.
The first step in becoming an advocate for motorists’ rights should be educating yourself and others. If you have the time and energy, direct action on your part will make a bigger impact of course. Here are some ideas of where you can begin your advocacy journey and where you can go with what you learn.
Learn about the issues
Read this NMA blog to learn particular viewpoints on motorists’ rights.
Keep up with Driving News located on the NMA website to keep abreast of current issues.
Read and understand all the motorists’ rights issues highlighted on the NMA website.
If you receive a traffic ticket, challenge it in court, no matter how long it takes.
When talking about driving and traffic with family and friends, discuss the deeper issues of motorists’ rights to spread your understanding along to others.
Become a member and stand strong with the National Motorists Association.
Commit yourself to the written text or phone call
Write emails, letters and make phone calls to your elected representatives about current legislation or ordinances. Keep writing them every week to keep the pressure on hot topic issues. Don’t give up.
Write letters to the local editor and the news director on agreeing or disagreeing with a news report or article. Do this every single time.
Get involved on a deeper level with the National Motorists Association and serve as a local/ state advocate, member recruiter, local/state media spokesperson, or a local/state chapter leader.
Volunteer your expertise with the national office.
Meet directly with governmental officials and elected representatives to discuss motorists’ rights in general and particular issues as needed.
Testify before a local or state transportation committee, city council, or county board of supervisors. Do your homework, bring the facts and be prepared.
Use your Voice! Be heard! Become a motorists’ advocate today!
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