By Gary Biller, President, National Motorists Association
For the moment, let’s focus on just one of many objections to the use of red-light and speed cameras: Neither can positively identify the driver when recording an alleged violation. As a result, the photo ticket is issued to the vehicle owner who becomes the default suspect whether he or she happened to be behind the wheel at the time of the incident. If an officer makes a traffic stop, would he write a ticket or warning against the car, against the registered owner, or against the person who was actually driving?
The obvious answer to that question is why Assembly Bill 3527, a bill that would prohibit the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission or any other state agency from sharing license-plate or driver-identification information with interstate agencies with regard to alleged red-light or speed camera violations, should be passed overwhelmingly by New Jersey lawmakers. In fact, it should serve as model legislation for all states.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon has it exactly right in introducing A3527. In an age when surveillance technology is rapidly outpacing society’s ability to put proper legal protections in place, the last thing we need is for states to freely share private records of individuals for the purposes of levying penalties against those who haven’t even been properly identified as suspects.
False accusation by camera has extended beyond the identification issue. The cities of Baltimore and Chicago for instance have been rocked by recent reports that thousands of red-light and speed camera tickets were wrongfully issued by their programs. Baltimore mothballed its speed camera program because of the controversy while The Chicago Tribune’s investigative report concluded that undeserved Windy City red-light camera tickets were the result of “faulty equipment, human tinkering, or both.”
We place great trust in our state authorities to protect our rights to privacy and due process, particularly against questionable claims. Mr. O’Scanlon’s proposed legislation will provide some needed assurances that these critical rights at the heart of our system of jurisprudence aren’t being circumvented as a matter of routine.