Court Ruling: Gender Match Insufficient to Qualify as Reasonable Grounds to Issue Photo Ticket

April 23, 2010

From the beginning, scamera vendors and officials have attempted to quell concerns of legitimacy by stating that an officer will review each and every citation. The problem is, no one ever asked exactly what they’d be reviewing. We should have known better…

In an Oct 2009 court ruling from the Maricopa County Superior Court, a judge has ruled that a photo traffic complaint is not properly issued if an officer merely matches that the sex of the person in the photo matches the sex of the vehicle registrant.

A.R.S. § 28-1561 states that traffic complaints need to contain a certification “by the issuing officer in substance as follows: ‘I hereby certify that I have reasonable grounds to believe and do believe that the person named herein committed the offense or civil violation described herein contrary to law.’” However, an aide from the Tempe police department testified that they only match sex, and do not look at physical descriptions.

Therefore, the court concluded that the traffic complaint was improperly issued because the officer did NOT have reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant committed the offense. That doesn’t seem to have had any effect on procedures, as the police still issue tickets even with obvious race and appearance mismatches. They get away with it because judges don’t seem to want to enforce section B of the statutes which states:

B. A false certification under the provisions of subsection A is perjury.

The intent of the perjury provision is to help ensure that police do not abuse their power by issuing false citations. The reality is that this is what the photo enforcement programs have been about since their inception. They issue known false citations by the hundreds and thousands, as evidenced by court statistics. Most people are happy when their case is dismissed because they don’t resemble the person in the photo; however, anyone receiving a photo ticket where the officer clearly made a false certification needs to take measures to see that the responsible officer be charged with perjury as is appropriate under this statute. Only enforcement of the perjury provision under this statute will have any effect on curbing this attack on the innocent. Of course, the end of all photo enforcement in Arizona in November will achieve that as also.

DPS: Two Tickets Safer Than One

April 19, 2010

Over the past week (and several other times in the past), DPS has ordered Redflex to park speed vans in one of their favorite spots on Eastbound 101 where it goes under I-17. Those familiar with this stretch of freeway know that the closest entry point to this stretch of the freeway is 101 & 51st Ave and that there is a fixed speed camera located near the 35th Ave exit which is less than a mile west of this speed van van location.

With no on-ramps between the two camera locations, everyone who drives by the speed van must have driven by the fixed camera. And anyone getting flashed by the first camera who didn’t take an exit will likely be flashed by the second… for the same violation. Most would consider this to be double jeopardy, but DPS apparently has no qualms about a system that will issue multiple tickets to the same vehicle owner (not necessarily the driver) for the same offense.

DPS and Redflex claim that the cameras have slowed traffic down and are “modifying driver behavior,” but if this were the case, why is a second camera needed less than a mile from the first? The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the DPS thinks that mailing two tickets will make the streets safer than just sending one. With thousands and thousands of miles of freeways in this state, they want us to believe that the best use of a speed van is to park it within 1 mile of a permanent camera? This isn’t about safety, folks. It’s about revenue, and always has been.

AZ Republic Shills for Mesa Photo Program (Again)

April 16, 2010

The Republic is at it again. In another display of journalism at its worst, Arizona Republic writer Nathan Gonzalez spreads propaganda and tries to give credit to Mesa’s photo enforcement program where credit isn’t due.

In what is truly a stretch of a headline, the Republic proclaims, “Mesa police credit photo enforcement for accident decline.” Never mind that quotes from police Sgt. Andy Nesbit in the same article contradict this, “Understand, though, that we can’t say photo safety is the cause.” In fact Nesbit point out that several other factors have probably helped, “Traffic patrols and the city’s involvement in DUI task forces have played a role along with the photo-enforcement program,” Nesbit said.

Proper journalism would call for an interview of an expert on the matter such as a city traffic engineer as well as a comparison of data to other cities and regional and national trends. Had Nathan done this, he’d have shown a national trend of a reduction in fatalities of about 9%, and a 18-20% reduction in overall accidents. The traffic engineer could have also provided data on traffic volume through the city, as the number of miles traveled can have a huge impact on crash numbers. When these facts are considered, Mesa probably saw an INCREASE in accidents and fatalities, as Mesa reports that the number of fatalities was unchanged and a reduction in overall crashes of only 7% – significantly less than national averages. Accidents are usually categorized as either non-injury, injury, and fatality. Curiously, the article omits injury accident numbers.

Nathan also attempts the classical tactic of using emotion to tug at the readers heartstrings by opening the article with a story about a fatal accident involving a red light runner. It’s unclear because of how it’s (purposefully?) written, but the person killed in the accident was actually the person who ran the red light as explained in this article. There’s not enough information to draw any solid conclusions, but our money says that the 60-year-old woman probably wasn’t merely trying to “beat the light” or avoid sitting in traffic and that a camera would not have made any difference except to mail her a ticket a few weeks later.

The article also highlights the ineffectiveness of the photo enforcement system but glosses over these facts:

Of the photo-radar speed tickets generated, Mesa Municipal Court documents indicate that 7,693 were paid last year and 8,488 were either dismissed by the Police Department or dismissed because the driver wasn’t served with the ticket.

Of the red-light citations, 4,849 were paid and 6,139 were dismissed.

This gives the speed tickets an effectiveness rate of only 48%, and red light tickets a rate of 44%. So much for fair “law enforcement.” The rates get even worse if you consider the total number of citations which were mentioned in the side bar. Total speed citations: 23,533. Total Red Light citations: 18,200.

Another curious observation is the lack of the ability to comment on the story. Afraid of letting the truth get in the way again, Arizona Republic?

New Mexico Transporation Commision bans cams; Governor Agrees

March 30, 2010


So how is it that New Mexico’s leadership sees the pitfalls and corruption of automated ticketing, and yet our very similar state’s leadership does not?

I think we need to take a closer look at who benefits here in Arizona from Automated Ticketing.

Feds Investigation of REDFLEX heats up; Stock continues to drop.

March 24, 2010

You’d better watch your step Redflex, Heiler,  Specter, and company…

The feds are coming for you.

Jefferson Parish’s red light camera program is snaring more than heavy-footed pedestrians – and the feds have the subpoenas to prove it.

Background: Jay Specter Conviction

A loss of 2.6% today and 25% over the past 30 days.

RDF: Redflex Stock

Chandler Photo Enforcement Error Rate 52%

March 9, 2010

According to the East Valley Tribune, Chandler’s red light cameras result in enforceable tickets only 48% of the time. For fiscal year 2008-2009, the cameras flashed 29,000 times; however, 8000 of those tickets failed to capture critical information according to Detective Dave Ramer. Of the remaining tickets, 7000 (24%) were of commercial vehicles belonging to companies that refused to divulge the identity of the driver. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, an average of 28% of drivers are NOT the registered owner the car, which further adds to the difficulty of issuing tickets. Then we know that of the 48% of “successful” tickets, only a fraction ever get paid.

The Chandler City Council is now contemplating an expansion of the system. But would the Chandler City Council have voted for the cameras had the sales pitch to Chandler been more honest to begin with?

Redflex: “We have this system that photographs drivers who run red lights… except we can only target a fraction of the people driving by, and it only works 48% of the time.  But did I mention we, (*cough*) I mean you can still make lots of money?”

The article goes on to imply that Chandler is disappointed that it couldn’t cash in on all of those missed opportunities, and had to settle for a paltry $300,000 while sending millions of dollars (drained from the local economy) to Redflex.

If the same statistics hold true for freeway traffic, 1 in 4 cars passing by a freeway camera are immune from photo tickets because of commercial plate registration. Again we ask, how is this constitutional? As a reminder, 

Arizona constitution, Article 2, Section 13 states:

No law shall be enacted granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens or corporations.

It would seem to us that over 25% of the drivers on the road have inherent “immunities which, upon the same terms, (do) not equally belong to all citizens.” Compare this to human officers who can pull anyone over at any time for any reason.

Call To Action: The Chandler City Council is voting on whether to expand the red light contract on Thursday, Mar 11. Click here to find out how you can help influence their decision.

Avoiding Photo Enforcement, Tip #18

February 28, 2010

In this series, we’re providing tips and methods to exploit and highlight the weaknesses and problems of photo enforcement. Use at your own risk, your mileage may vary.

The most obvious example of how laughable photo enforcement is as a law enforcement tool is its inability to identify violators. Most patriots would see this alone as a reason why photo enforcement should never be used in this country.

Larry Fitzgerald, a wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, found this out first hand. He recently received 5 photo tickets in the mail; however, 4 of the 5 tickets had photos of a person clearly of another race. The Phoenix New Times reports that these tickets have since been dismissed, most likely after these tickets received media attention. Those of us who are unlikely to make news at outlets like TMZ will probably still have to go to court or respond to tickets issued to the wrong person. That is, only if we are served of course. An officer reviews each ticket? Yeah, right.

So, driving a car registered to a person of the opposite sex or registered to someone who looks nothing like you is our tip for the week. According to page 8 of the Redflex operations manual, they’ll still send you a ticket. But if you do get served and report to court, you should have no problems getting your case dismissed.

Tip: If you’re married, register the car you drive most in your spouse’s name ONLY, and register the spouse’s primary car in your name. And remember, you are NEVER required to divulge the true identity of the driver. That’s what police and detectives are for!

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