When a city signs a contract with a ticket camera company — even though cities often insist it’s not the case — they’re delegating law enforcement activities to a private company. The story below, from TheLedger.com, shows just one of the dangers of this kind of agreement.
Here’s an excerpt:
The red-light camera company contracted by Lakeland has been telling ticketed drivers a hold can be placed on their vehicle registration if they fail to pay their fine.
But a city spokesman said that isn’t part of the city’s agreement with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions.
That miscommunication has left [local motorist] Linda Boyle confused. […]
On more than one occasion, Boyle called and was told if she failed to pay she might not be able to renew the registration on her 2000 silver Chevrolet pickup truck, even though her son was the one who was driving.
The city clearly knows that they can’t place holds on vehicle registrations, but this setup lets the ticket camera company — which doesn’t have to answer to the public — take the heat for the city.
Meanwhile the city uses this misinformation to bully drivers into paying tickets that are themselves illegal (the Florida Attorney General has stated that photo enforcement is not legal in the state of Florida.)
A Ledger reporter called ATS’s Violation Processing Service Center Thursday and spoke to a customer service representative who confirmed the policy.
The employee said the company implemented the policy about a year ago and that it was only used as an “end-of-the-line process.” She said that in the event a ticketed driver doesn’t pay, ATS’s collection agency could place a hold on the vehicle owner’s registration.
But city spokesman Kevin Cook said the company’s customer service employees misspoke, and Florida law doesn’t allow that to happen.
“We aren’t even using them as a collection agency,” he said. “They are probably saying what is true for 99 percent of their municipalities. We are a lot different than most of their clients.”
Actually, no red-light camera company can issue a registration hold for citations issued in Florida, according to the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
“That only applies to parking citations and toll violations, but not red-light cameras,” department spokesman Capt. Mark Welch told The Ledger.
As the section of the article above shows, this is not an isolated incident or a mistake. The ticket camera company is intentionally misleading drivers.
Cook said he has apologized to Boyle for the confusion and talked with company officials and the situation has been resolved. ATS told Cook they would be reviewing the incident and using Boyle’s case as a training tool for their employees.
What do you think the odds are that this is actually going to change their process? Hopefully enough motorists will see this story to keep them honest, but the more likely scenario is that the company will back off for a month until the bad publicity dies down and then go back to their old ways.
You can read the full story from TheLedger.com here.