How To Make Traffic Cameras Legal But Useless

By John Carr, NMA Massachusetts Activist

Pyrrhic victory — A victory where the losses outweigh the gains.

Missouri appeals courts ruled that cities are free to use cameras to enforce traffic law the same as they would use any other equipment.

For practical purposes these decisions killed cameras.

Cities don’t need cameras to write tickets. The police officer recites a standard script and you’re guilty. Replacing officers with cameras makes the case weaker. Is that blurry face behind the sunglasses and windshield glare really you?

Cities need cameras to pump up the volume. Cameras are profitable if computers can look up a license plate and send a bill to the owner instead of a summons to the driver.

In some states they can. Not in Missouri. Appeals courts said only drivers can be held responsible for moving violations. They are entitled to the same legal process as drivers ticketed the old fashioned way. The prosecution has to prove its case, including proving the driver’s identity.

Cities don’t make much money when cameras write real tickets. Some lose money. California cities couldn’t afford to offer a fair trial for $500 tickets.

The other problem with real tickets is that the system takes them seriously. Moving violations turn into license points.

Camera operators hate points. Points make drivers fight tickets. If ordinary people started losing their licenses for breaking the law, they would be angry. They might even vote the bastards out.

Cameras are parasites, staying below the threshold of pain where you call for an exterminator.
Unless the Supreme Court saves them cameras are dead. There’s no profit left.

The most exciting part of the Missouri battle is yet to come. Some people may be entitled to refunds.
Cities could be ordered to pay millions they don’t have. The money is gone. Redflex has it. Maybe after the resulting tax increases residents will vote the bastards out.

Editor’s Note: The photo enforcement environment in Missouri is in flux and evolving rapidly. For more background on what’s going on check here.

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8 Responses to “How To Make Traffic Cameras Legal But Useless”

  1. TZx4 says:

    It is a sad and disgusting situation that a foreign company is allowed to set Up mechanized hwy. robbery machines.

  2. I Drive Very Well, O says:

    If you think you're not responsible for what happens in your car when you're not driving it, just ask your insurance agent. He or she will set you straight. When your friend or loved one drives your car and gets in an accident that is the driver's fault, your insurance company pays the claim, even though it was your friend's or loved one's fault. Now, certainly, it amazes me that states cannot effectively argue this in court. But there you have it: plenty of legal precedent.

    • WJ says:

      Not sure when it changed, but years ago I had a policy that covered me regardless of the vehicle that I was driving. We really should be insuring drivers and not vehicles.

      The risk obviously comes from the actions of the driver and not the inanimate object of the vehicle. It's true that the owner of the vehicle has "skin in the game" so to speak, but any violation is obviously perpetrated by the driver. If a ticket was written by an officer on the spot it would be to the DRIVER as the article stated. The appeals court seems to agree. Camera enforcement is on shaky ground.

    • Liberty Agent says:

      Your statement is a irrelevant. Is a home owner responsibile when a third party kills someone on their property? No. Hey I said third party could be there…….. get a life. The property owner is only responsible for actions he directly affects. If third party speeds, runs a red light etc it is the third party's rep. not the property owner. or are you saying that the property owner is now guilty of murder?

    • Naysayer says:

      Being financially responsible for ensuring your car is handled properly is not exactly the same as being held legally responsible for someone that in good faith borrows your car and then uses it to commit a crime. Your argument is assinine. Your logic is flawed.

    • Ken says:

      When you allow someone to drive your car, it's covered by what's called "permissive insurance" because you've given them permission. Your argument falls apart in that you have not given them permission to break the law. That responsibility is solely theirs. The vehicle does not decide to break the law on their behalf.

  3. akoben says:

    There is a very funny statement in this post but many will not see it. The statement is "The prosecution has to prove its case" The truth be told they never have to prove anything. If the city needs your energy (money) they will take it! If a cop stops you for not stopping at a stop sign at that point your case is lost or won depending on what the administrative judge wants to do. As the cop never has to have a witness for any summons to the driver. But the people are so dumb down about the law and their right they never ask, "WHAT KINDA Of COURT IS IT WHERE YOU DON'T NEED A WITNESS OR A VICTIM?" If they did they might find the error of their ways. This is just one of the reasons


  4. tom says:

    Cameras are unconstitutional? Yep, i think so. Whatever happened to being charged with an offense by a sworn member of Law Enforcement who identifies you as the suspect? I own a small service fleet with 5 trucks. I've received 8 citations in the mail here in Texas, claiming I ran red lights in them. I have a medical condition which prevents me from operating motor vehicles, yet I am still responsible for technicians' choices at red lights. Now the State has changed the laws so that if you dont pay these ransoms, they will not renew your vehicle registration. When I spoke with the authorities, they told me that if I was not the operator of those vehicles when the violations happened, I needed to locate the drivers and have them pay. I always thought it was the States' responsibility to identify suspects, and charge them accordingly.