Defeating Automated Cameras via Lawsuits

Nearly every quarter of the year, a class action moves forward fighting automated camera tickets. The latest is a lawsuit against the District of Columbia, one of the most notorious municipalities that generate millions from speed traps.

A local TV news investigation uncovered in recent reports that one speed camera raked in more than $34 million, and now drivers are suing the city. A couple, Reggie and Teresa Matthews, were ticketed by the camera on the same day, an hour apart, and fined $200 each for going 55 and 52 in a 50 mph zone.

But here’s the rub—this supposedly was a 50 mph zone until the city lowered the limit to 40 mph, declared a work zone (with no evidence of any work), which doubled the fine. Not only that, there was only one small sign that stated the speed limit change that could easily be obstructed by a passing vehicle.

The construction zone ended in May 2019, but the area was still declared a work zone into early 2020. The lawyers for the plaintiffs say that the city was generating revenue for the city illegally. They discovered that the lowering of any speed limit according to the District’s own laws must be made based on an engineering and traffic investigation.

Motorist Reggie Matthews says about his lawsuit, “After I got the ticket I happened to be watching TV, and I came across the news story about that particular speed camera, and I decided I wanted to see what we could do to make this right for all the people who’ve been victimized by this.” He added, “There’s no way to dress this up then for what it is…a cash cow for the District.”

The Matthews’ attorney Gary Mason also said in the TV interview, “Consumers come to us because it’s not fair. We file a lawsuit because it’s not lawful. DC is in violation of its own regulations as well as national guidelines.”

Lawsuits like this are necessary when local governments use automated cameras for policing for-profit and taxation by citation schemes. As more communities discuss police reform, automated cameras may well be discussed as a solution to get police out of traffic stops. As an active motorist, don’t let that happen in your city or town.

Also, if you find that you have received one of these policing for profit tickets, fight that ticket even if it means doing your own investigation, contacting your local consumer TV reporter, and even filing a lawsuit. Getting locally active is the only way to get rid of these things.

Cameras are not about safety and all about cash. The pressure on local governments will be even higher now as one of the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

NMA Resources to fight against Ticket Cams and other Street and In-Car Surveillance

NMA Issue Pages:

Check out the NMA Facebook Page called the Ticket Cam Alert USA

We are currently building a closed Facebook Group called the Ticket Cam Alert USA Discussion Group for local and state activists to have a space to discuss best practices and ask questions.

Also, here are some NMA blog posts that might be of interest!

If you would like to keep track of the many issues currently involved in automated ticket cameras and street surveillance, take a daily peek at the NMA’s Driving News Feed or subscribe to Driving News Daily, a five times per week email.

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2 Responses to “Defeating Automated Cameras via Lawsuits”

  1. Mike says:

    I wish the NMA could get a federal law passed to ban automated enforcement, a fed agency rule to ban them, or win a lawsuit to ban them. Or going the other way, get laws mandating proper engineering and ticketing to starve them of money.