By A.T. Lynne, Guest Author from DISMISSED…in the Interest of Justice!
Police officers are under increasing pressure to generate the revenue needed to fill the deficits in local, county and state government budgets. In California alone, this ticket revenue for 2012 is estimated at around $1 billion. Before you pay $200, $300, $400 or more for a traffic citation, it just might pay to consider if you are actually guilty as accused.
A police officer’s daily responsibilities involve acts of service directly benefiting the safety and welfare of his or her community and its citizens. When the time and attention of that officer are redirected to issuing a specified number of traffic citations, neither the community nor its citizens are well served.
Although it is illegal to set ticket quotas, the pressure on police departments to make up budget deficits is a very real one. An article in the LA Times reports that in 2009, two veteran Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officers sued their department for discrimination specifically because they did not keep up with the 18-ticket-per-day quota required of each officer on patrol. In April of 2011, the court awarded those two officers $2M. Four months later, 10 more officers in the same department sued LAPD on exactly the same charges. Their case is still pending.
Read the full article here.
The Times quotes one of the original two officers attorneys, “‘We’re very hopeful that this will put an end to fleecing motorists on the west side of Los Angeles,’ said Benioff’s attorney, Gregory Smith. ’Quotas are a direct violation of the vehicle code, and this case was about these officers being asked to break the law.'”
Another passage from the LA Times article makes it clear that the benefits of a police force may be jeopardized when revenue-generation becomes the priority. “In testimony, the officers said they were ordered to scrap regular patrol assignments and sent instead to specific streets where they were more likely to catch motorists committing moving violations. Though not illegal, being sent to those so-called ‘orchards’ or ‘cherry patches,’ they said, reinforced the belief that hitting ticket targets trumped other aspects of the job.”
According to TicketDefender, creator of an iPhone App which they say helps drivers fight unwarranted speeding tickets, it is estimated that “10-20% of all radar-backed speeding tickets are issued in error, and in the case of radar operated from a moving police vehicle, the number of inaccurate tickets may be as high as 30%!” In addition, according to the Operator’s Manual for the Kustom Eagle II Traffic Safety Radar gun, 10 different types of interference are cited as causing erroneous radar readings, including the heating/air conditioning fan inside the officer’s own vehicle.
Before you choose to simply accept an officer’s accusation that you are guilty of a traffic infraction, remember that in this country you are “innocent until proven guilty.” And, when you believe you are not guilty, the only one who has the authority to decide your guilt or innocence is a judge of the court. In California, as in eight other states, Trial by Written Declaration gives you the option of having the judge consider the facts without your having to appear in court.
Where there is reasonable proof of innocence, there is a responsibility to defend it.
Based in northern California, DISMISSED helps clients prepare and file the proper documents essential for getting unwarranted traffic tickets dismissed.