LA Police Admit That Red Light Camera Payments Are Now 'Voluntary'

from the if-you'd-like-to-contribute-to-the-police-red-light-fund... dept

We recently wrote about how LA was considering dumping its red light cameras, and Jay Matteo was the first of a few of you to let us know that, rather than getting rid of them entirely, the police appear to be publicly stating that paying any such red light camera fines is entirely optional:

Officials said that paying the fines was optional and the city had no legal power to force people to pay.

The tickets are part of a “voluntary payment program,” without sanctions for those who fail to submit fines, said Richard M. Tefank, executive director of the city’s Board of Police Commissioners.

“The consequence is somebody calling you from one of these collection agencies and saying ‘pay up.’ And that’s it,” said committee member and Councilman Bill Rosendahl. “There’s no real penalty in terms of your driver’s license or any other consequences if you don’t pay.”

Of course, they never said that publicly before, and those who already paid can’t take back their money, but it’s still quite a revelation for the police to make.

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Comments on “LA Police Admit That Red Light Camera Payments Are Now 'Voluntary'”

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Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re: Fair Debt Collection Act

Yes, that law allows you to contest the validity of the debt, and the collection agency has to provide proof, in writing, within a certain time period. Many collection agencies don’t have this information (even for valid debts) and it’s not at all uncommon for a collection agency to just send what they have to comply with the letter of the law, then sell your debt off to another agency because they can no longer really pursue it legally.

Of course you get to start over with the new agency then. You can be harassed for years over invalid debts because it keeps getting sold from agency to agency and you have to dispute it over and over again. They can’t actually put anything on your credit rating (legally), but they sure can waste your time and annoy you.

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: Re: Fair Debt Collection Act

They won’t try to sue after that, they’ll sell the debt off to another collection agency and you get to start over. Repeat until the statute of limitations on debt in your state runs out (and sometimes even past that). Especially when the debt is as small as a traffic ticket would be. At that point it’s 1. small debt (valid or not) and 2. you’ve shown you won’t just roll over and pay, so they move on to easier marks. They sell it off to let another sucker have a go at it. (And to try and recoup some of the money they spent buying it themselves, but that’s generally pennies on the dollar so it wasn’t much.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Dirty little secret: All traffic cameras are ‘voluntary’ so long as you take basic precautions. Title your car in a business name, not your own, and walla, you no longer have to pay camera tickets. ‘Bills’ for your tickets will be charged to your business, and as long as you do not register the business with the Feds and get a EIN/TIN the debt collectors will have no information to come and get you with.

I’ve been driving this way for 3 years, and my company has been mailed 3 notices from various collection agencies. All of which can do jack shit because my company has no credit history they can use to threaten me with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not here in Arizona. Ignore one of those tickets and they will just suspend your license. They even made it mandatory for the registered owner of the car to turn in someone else driving your vehicle and getting a violation. If not it goes against you. Fortunately the city of Tempe did not renew it’s contract with Redflex this month and all their red light and speed cameras are turned off. We got rid of the hundreds of freeway speed traps last year. So at least we are making some headway.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> Ignore one of those tickets and they will
> just suspend your license. They even made
> it mandatory for the registered owner of
> the car to turn in someone else driving
> your vehicle and getting a violation. If
> not it goes against you.

The courts in most other states have ruled that suspending licenses when there’s no direct proof of who was driving violates due process. The most the state can do is fine the registered owner, but suspending a drivers license based on no proof whatsoever that the person was driving? Nope.

And the “you must rat out your friends and family” clauses have also been held unconstitutional. The burden of proof is on the state and you can’t be compelled to provide testimony in a case in which you are the accused.

Anonymous Coward says:

Recently received a recent notice from the City of Denver, citing us for speeding. They sent a photo of our license plate and a shot of the driver — there was clearly no driver behind the wheel of the car. We can only imagine that their camera took a photo of our parked car, and their computer sent us a ticket for speeding.

We protested on the form provided, and received a letter telling us “charges were dismissed.”

Please folks — if you receive one of these illegal summonses (another issue, entirely), examine them closely. Do not just pay out of habit — this is not a bill. Make sure that you actually committed an infraction.

abc gum says:

Re: Re:

“there was clearly no driver behind the wheel of the car. “

Doesn’t anyone perform a sanity check on these things prior to mailing? There have been instances were the claimed speed recorded was in excess of several hundreds of miles per hour. Very few vehicles are capable of this speed. One would think that a simple inspection of the picture would reveal if this was one of those vehicles. The disregard really is an insult upon the public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: LA Courts

wrong, its voluntary because the tickets are not tickets at all. they are not being issued by the government period.

its a “bill” being generated and mailed to individuals by a third party. you pay a third party by your own stupidity, and they share some money with the local government.

its being done under the pretense of a ticket, but its nothing at all like it. its a scam.

keniri says:

The Consequence? See Your Credit Score Get Hit

Did I hear that right? There is no consequence? For anyone who believes that, I’d like to sell you the Empire State Building. The quote in this article says it all. The consequence is that someone from a collection agency calls you up. Pardon me but the consequence of not paying is that it gets placed on your credit report and will negatively affect your credit score.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: The Consequence? See Your Credit Score Get Hit

They can’t, there’s no formal agreement between you and them so they can’t put it on your credit score. That would probably qualify as some sort of credit fraud. The original idea is that if you didn’t pay they would forward information to the police and they would file formal charges. In this case, that will not be happening.

keniri says:

They can. If this can result in a “collection agency” being sent after you, this means that someone holds the “note of debt” against you. If you fail to pay that debt, they can report the failure to pay that debt to the various credit reporting agencies.

Since that debt is held by the jurisdiction where you got that ticket, it’s that jurisdiction that can file the “notice of nonpayment” and that gets placed on your credit report.

It’s not credit fraud because, legally, you still owe that debt, regardless whether or not paying that is extremely voluntary.

Henry (profile) says:

The Big Picture

Everywhere but LA, ticketing is gonna increase. Why?

A bill in Sacramento – if not vetoed – will allow cities to reduce posted speeds by 5 mph, even on streets with a great safety record. The lower limits will allow them to shorten yellows. The shortening permitted by a 5 mph decrease in the speed will increase red light cam ticketing by at least 50%. (Four of the sponsoring cities have cameras.) Worse, the shortening will increase severe accidents by 30 to 40%. (Source: “Development of Guidelines for Treating Red-Light Running,” Texas Transp. Inst. pg 2-20.)

It is AB 529, and it is going to Gov. Brown for signature – or veto.

Defeat AB 529! Phone Brown, at 916 445-2841, or email him via the form at , and ask him to veto. Also phone the AAA, and your union or professional association.

To the anti-car people and cities thinking of supporting this bill for the money more tickets will bring: Remember that this bill will increase severe accidents, a lot. For money.

Keith (user link) says:

Sounds like toll fees in Texas

This is very simliar to what toll companies have been doing in north texas for awhile now, threatening for you to pay toll fees, as the only roads without traffic seem to be toll based here. Many of them are not only charging fees, but huge penalties for paying fines even a few days late. The fines have been challenged, and so far only held up in Houston.

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