Yet Another Redlight Camera Program Found To Be Illegal

from the down-goes-another-one dept

Jeff Nolan points us to the news that yet another redlight camera program in California has been struck down as illegal, this time in San Mateo (right up the road from where I live). The details are a little technical, but effectively, California law doesn’t allow municipalities to do deals with redlight camera vendors, where the vendor gets a percentage of the money brought in by tickets. San Mateo tried to get around this by giving the vendor (Redflex, of course) a cut up to a certain level. However, the judge didn’t buy that, and rejected the ticket that was at issue. The lawyer who handled the case is thinking about now turning this into a class action lawsuit against various municipalities doing the same thing — and potentially against Redflex. (Full disclosure: Just recently — long after I’d written about how awful these cameras are, my wife got a ticket from one of these redlight cameras… in San Mateo, for the exact same thing as the guy who won this lawsuit: a right turn on red, without a full stop).

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Comments on “Yet Another Redlight Camera Program Found To Be Illegal”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I always thought “California Stops” were illegal. Good that the redlight camera manufacturers believe so too.

But this really asks the question if “locally acceptable” behaviors which would not normally be enforced by police, if RoboCop should take it upon himself to enforce.

I’d like to know is if anyone has received a Ticket from RoboCop that doesn’t have the concept of “Giving Birth”, or if RoboCop can give a ticket to a jaywalker that holding up traffic.

Couldn’t these things possibly mean that RoboCop is infringing due process? And, because it doesn’t observe due process, it probably can’t ticket those other original offenses either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, asshole.

I just prefer to get angry and tell a story that involves describing the problem for what it is. Robocop is not a uniformed police officer, and Robocop did not hand-serve me a summons.

Redlight Cameras are illegal in my state because they don’t observe due process. Maybe you’ll have luck by challenging them under Due Process, which includes Court Appearances must be served via a summons by a uniformed police officer.

I am sick and tired of Robocop, and I am tired of being seen as my city or county’s personal ATM. If you want $50 from me, at least send a god damned officer.

But then you may say OH, but it’s going to cost the City/County $150 to send a Summons Officer to me? Well, then.

If you get one of these things in the mail, and decide to bend over and accept the ticket, you’re a sucker and it further incetivises a welfare mentality of the highest ranks- that of City/County leadership.

Know your local laws, and protect your rights, asshole, unless you like it in the pooper, because that’s what they’re doing to you.

kck (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It’s easy to break “dumb laws” every day.

California, State
No vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour.

California, Norco
Vehicles may not contain sound systems which allow someone to hear noise outside the vehicle.

New Jersey, State
Drivers must warn those who they pass on highways before they do so.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

No, the stupid man is he who thinks all laws automatically good. The man who would like to see automated monitoring and enforcement of all laws. The man who thinks HIS shi4 don’t stink, and that he never breaks some dumb law.

Do you really never pass 65mph on the freeway? Do you really think that a rolling ‘stop’ at a red light at 3AM, with nobody else there, no headlights visible for miles is a dangerous act, which our government should be watching for? Do you really think this should be the priority of our government? Do you really think it coincidental that enforcement regimes that pull in scads of revenue are preferred over enforcement of more serious, more dangerous, or more risky transgressions? Should our uniformed officers also shift all enforcement efforts to revenue-generating offenses? You know how much it costs to catch, try, convict, and imprison a murderer? It would be much more profitable to just catch speeders.

We citizens all have a responsibility to protect our freedoms, question our laws, and question their enforcement. If, in this never-ending duty to remain vigilant, you should turn your back, then that is a mistake and you should tend your freedom more closely. But if you see your freedoms erode, yet just turtle over and cow-tow to the powers that be, then shame on you. If you go one further, and make fun of those that are carrying your water for you, then all I can say is “Nice job, comrade.”

Photoradar Hater says:

I Fell Your Pain...(as Bubba would say...)

I live in that photoradar-happy town of Campbell and got a ticket (15 years ago) supposedly going 52 MPH pulling out of my driveway. The front-on photo showed my car at a 45deg angle, halfway out of the driveway apron…apparently breaking the laws of physics. The tail-on photo showed another car going that 52 MPH…a photo the Campbell PD conveniently lost when I challenged it in court. The judge was non-plussed with their “losing” one of the photos and dismissed it.

A few months later, the same judge found out that Campbell was running an illegal “diversion” program: handling out “city” tickets, sending violators to a city-run “DI” (driving improvement) class to “pay” for the ticket (with all $$$ going to the city, not the state). He got so pissed he dismissed ALL of oustanding tickets (>10K) in the (then) Los Gatos Municipal Court…and ordered Campbell to shut down the diversion. (The state then sued Campbell for all the diversionary funds they took in, a couple of million $$$s.) A year later, since the $$$s fell sharply, the photoradar trucks were sold. (A year after that, the company that was running the trucks for the city, I believe from Phoenix, also went under…)

I’m all for the red-light cameras, when they’re used reasonably (i.e., the yellow-light timing’s aren’t reduced as “revenue generators”) at problem intersections. I’ve seen too many purposeful red-light runners…those particular assholes who pull up to a red-light, stop, look, and then proceed through illegally…and seen too many accidents with dead people under sheets from exactly that.) But this bullshit of looking for right-turners doing a “rolling California stop” isn’t going to reduce fatalities much. It’s just more another “revenue project”.

I also have strong reservations about camera-use, since I’m not convinced that they’re accurate (per my experience). But I figure that in 15 years, the equipment SHOULD have gotten a lot bettter. (Some rat boxes elsewhere that were recently being stolen had Nikon D2H’s in them, so they sounded like they were decently designed.) It’s too bad that certain city’s misuse of technology have made it harder for this real issue of fatalities to be solved.

Here’s the operative question: which CVC section has 3 seconds codified? I’ve looked and looked and don’t see it. Methinks 3 seconds is too long. Two seconds maybe… But this smells like a city cooking up BS extentions to state law. If I got one of these tickets, I would argue on merit (“show me the 3 seconds in the CVC!”).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I Fell Your Pain...(as Bubba would say...)

“I’ve seen too many purposeful red-light runners…those particular assholes who pull up to a red-light, stop, look, and then proceed through illegally”

A redlight camera would not catch someone in this instance. The cameras are only “active” for approx 5 seconds after the light turns red. After that point you can essentially drive right through the light and not be photographed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That’s from the 2009 Supreme Court Docket.

In my state, as a result of local law being violated, the State Supreme Court amended state law to outlaw redlight cams completely. This was between five to seven years ago. It’s not surprising that something had to be pushed up to the supreme court to legitimize the method.

While the method may now be legitimized per Surpreme Court, Redlight Cams are still illegal.

Could you imagine it if citizens were smart and could de-legitimize a process which by a 50¢ envelope will come back with $50 in it?

edt (profile) says:

redlight cameras

what is it with you people… running a redlight is violation, and a very dangerous one… very serious accidents and deaths occur due idiots trying shave a minute from their frivolous schedule, while off course, talking on the cell phone… so, you idiots use legal hogwash to get-out of the dangerous violation… pay your fine, and pay attention… next time you run a redlight you might be killed… idiots

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: redlight cameras

You seem to allude that it’s enforcement for safety sake, when it’s been proven that Redlight Cameras do the opposite.

If the Redlight Cameras are ineffective at increasing safety, what’s the real reason for their existence?

Here’s some sources/studies for you to chew on. Please get back to me. makes it easy, and compiles Five Studies on Redlight Cameras.
University of South Florida Weighs in
Knox News weighs in.
Maybe the Mayor of College Station, TX doesn’t want his cash cow to go away. (Warning: PDF)
Some California attorneys appear to be on the attack.

Full disclosure: This morning I discussed this topic with a neighbor. He and his team were recently layed-off. He was employed for seven years in the capacity of a Traffic Enforcement Supervisor. His only regret (and I quote): “We weren’t big enough dicks”.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: redlight cameras

And rolling right turns are very dangerous…how?

And if you choose to answer, don’t forget to put it in the context of the fact that we already safely deal with:
– right turn on red
– yield sign intersections
– no traffic control intersections
– the continent of Europe has most of their intersections with no control other than a “right-hand right of way” rule, and they seem to survive
– even when we have green lights, we have pedestrians that may be in harm’s way…in fact, those pedestrians you might hit on a right turn are MORE likely to be in harm’s way during green than red

Then, next point. I run red lights ALL THE TIME. Most of the lights out here in Silicon Valley are triggered by metal detectors under the road. I ride a motorbike, and often my motorbike doesn’t activate the lights. So I sometimes sit at a light, waiting for a car to come beside me and trip the light. On other occasions, when traffic is light, I choose to run the red.

The point is, if a cop stopped me, I could easily explain the situation to him, and he would (actually, has) let me off. Robot enforcement, on the other hand, would not be so rational.

Law enforcement should be the job of rational humans. Not every human makes that grade, for sure, but no machine ever will.

Anonymous Coward says:

The real goal & the beauty of redight cameras

Redlight Cameras allow for selective enforcement based on whatever undocumented pet project a Mayor or County wants to push through without raising taxes.

Let’s say for example, the Mayor or County wants to build a $2M recreation center without raising taxes that could benefit a specific party-leaning voting district, they could tailor a redlight camera campaign in lower socieoeconomic areas that may enable that.

I like College Station’s problems. There’s a lot of information about their problem on the internet out there.

Let’s play out a few hypothetical scenereos:
Let’s say a car is registered, 97 miles from the place of offense, but it’s a large college town, they’ll probably ticket you thinking you’re a college student. Based on these assumptions, they could possibly lower the fine to something a college student would be able to afford, like $30, and send an envelope out requesting payment.

At the same intersection, if the time of the offense is during rush hours, and you live 20 miles away, they may let all offenses slide, under the assumption that you’re going/coming from work.

Now that you understand what some of these companies may be marketing.

So let’s say you’re a Mayor who ran under the Democrat ticket. Naturally, you want and need Democrat votes. Perhaps, you probably don’t want to ticket Independents or Democrats as this may cause a backlash in voter sentiment.

As a side note:
This is simple thing is extremely important. There was a study a few years back that said the most memorable thing people remember while in the voting booth was how many tickets they got. I wish I had a source to quote from, but perhaps someone can provide one.

But party affiliation can be done using readily available data scrubbing techniques available in any City office. Bubba just needs the name.

Further Exploring:
Perhaps you’re a failing city that wants more business. Nothing is worse than a decision maker who leaves with a bad taste in their mouth. So, don’t go after them and your little ATM scheme:
“Go Like A Pro” and shred the tickets where the car is registered to a company like Budget, Hertz, any local company, or Enterprise.

In Costa Mesa, which is typically seen as a high-income Republican Area of Orange County, (Where, oddly all the Subprime Financial Problems of the USA Started) it’s possible that only Redlight runners after 1:00am may be ticketed (under the model’s assumption that they’re fully loaded and leaving the bar.)

Basically, it’s a selective enforcement revenue source that favors multiple things. Usually so people can get re-elected.

If you read one thing let it be this:

The biggest problem is that no one really knows where this money goes, and thusly, any Redlight Camera Campaign should be regulated, and as far away from the office of those who championed the idea as possible. Revenues reviewed should be accounted for and put into a separate fund. Where The People get vote on what to do with the money.

Anonymous Coward says:

Most places who use them do so expressly to generate revenue.Some actually brag about how much money they bring in.I was caught twice running a yellow at 4 am.The cam tagged me 80% of the way through 2 seconds after the light changed.Unless i could have come to a complete stop from 40mph(the exit speed) in 2 seconds running the yellow was safer.
Could have fought it for about the same cost(loss of wages and travel expense) or just let it go like i did.
Either way they are making millions off questionable cams.
Just wait until they put on in your house in states were your property is considered publicly patrolable by police.

Anonymous Coward says:

Most places who use them do so expressly to generate revenue.Some actually brag about how much money they bring in.I was caught twice running a yellow at 4 am.The cam tagged me 80% of the way through 2 seconds after the light changed.Unless i could have come to a complete stop from 40mph(the exit speed) in 2 seconds running the yellow was safer.
Could have fought it for about the same cost(loss of wages and travel expense) or just let it go like i did.
Either way they are making millions off questionable cams.
Just wait until they put on in your house in states were your property is considered publicly patrolable by police.

Anonymous Coward says:

We used to have red light cameras in our area too, but about a week into the program someone shot them with a .308 sniper rifle from about 700m away. The cameras could not ID the person from that far away. The city decided to replace them 5 more times, and each time, they were shot out. They ran out of money for the program and discontinued. Good thing the citizens are looking out for their community.

What is equally interesting about the case, is that the city burried the info about it…. the news didn’t report any of the true facts about the case. They called it tampering rather than shooting. No mention was ever made that a sniper took them out. Funny how that seems to work.

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