Ticket Cameras Used To Convict Drivers Without Their Knowledge

The law in the state of Oregon (and other states as well) simply says that citations “may be delivered by mail.” There is an article on OregonLive.com today that illustrates why this is a major flaw in Oregon’s red-light camera system.

The following excerpt from the OregonLive.com article, written by Stacy Mitchell, shows how this flaw can lead to drivers being convicted without knowledge of ever even having been charged:

I live in Maine. Several weeks ago I received a call from someone working collections for Multnomah County. He said I owed the county $353. I was baffled.

It took some time on the phone to sort out what he was talking about. Apparently, while visiting Portland two years ago, in May 2007, I was photographed running a red light.

I was driving a rental car at the time. The rental company turned over my name and driver’s license number. But rather than sending the ticket to my current address — the one on my driver’s license at the time and on file with the Maine Department of Motor Vehicles — officials mailed it to an address I had not lived at for more than four years.

The envelope was returned unopened, but county officials made no further effort to locate me. They did not contact the Maine DMV. Nor did they look in the phone book, where I am, and was at the time, listed.

My court date came in October 2007. Since I failed to show up, I was convicted at the highest fine level. A few months later, with the fine unpaid and me still completely in the dark, Oregon imposed additional fees and suspended my driver’s license.

The suspension was sent out on a national database, which means that, had I been pulled over anywhere in the country in the last year and a half, I could have faced a steep fine and even arrest for driving with a suspended license.

That was not the only consequence of my secret conviction. Shortly after the call from the collections agent, my husband and I were, to our surprise, unable to refinance our mortgage. I learned that my credit score had plummeted almost 200 points, all because of a single item reported in March of this year, long before I received that first phone call: a “seriously past due” fine owed to Multnomah County Circuit Court.

You can read the full article here.

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