RED LIGHT CAMERAS
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The  Links / Reference / FAQ page

highwayrobbery.net is a free-of-charge public service.

Please start by reading the What's Hot box on the Home page.

On this Links page - scroll down, or click on these links:

1.  Info from Other Sites - Free, and Paid

2.  Contacting Government Officials, The Court

3.  Reference Materials for Research

4.  FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

5.  Letters / Editorials (Traffic School!) / News / Class Actions

6.  Info about Cameras in Other States
( Including Materials about California, Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington DC, Washington State, Canada )

7.  Humor

8.  Speeding Tickets
( Including Info from Inside and Outside of California )

9.  Moving Violations Cited Under Local Ordinances





Links/Ref/FAQ Page:
- 1 -
Red Light Camera Info from Other Sites



CalTrans Logo

http://www.dot.ca.gov
The California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) website includes an electronic edition of their
Traffic Manual - in fact, it is the online edition that is the official version of the manual.
CalTrans' phone number is (916) 654-5266.

CalTrans Encroachment Permits

Some cities choose to locate their cameras on CalTrans right-of-ways (State highways, or adjacent to freeways), so must apply to CalTrans for an encroachment permit.   HighwayRobbery.net has obtained encroachment permit documents for some cities (Belmont, Fremont, Hayward, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Napa, Oakland, Redwood City, Riverside, San Francisco, San Leandro, San Rafael, South San Francisco, Yuba City), and those documents are available at links on those cities' Documents pages.

In Mar. 2012, CalTrans
denied Yuba City's request for an encroachment permit to place a camera at the intersection of Route 20 (Colusa Avenue) and Plumas Street.

A June 2012
staff report revealed (see bottom of page 2-3) that CalTrans has refused to renew the encroachment permits in the cities of Riverside and Victorville.

CalTrans' requirements for the issuance of an encroachment permit for a red light camera are set out in a
Policy Directive.




Congressman Dick Armey's Report:
"The Red Light Running Crisis - Is It Intentional"

Rear end collision - part of Armey link
(From Chapter 6)

Retired Congressman Dick Armey's official website contained a big section about red light cameras, including the above-entitled 20-page position paper, and links to official studies, reports, and other documents.  It was last updated in late 2002.
Armey's Site (Replica)






is updated daily and is the place to look for recent articles, court decisions, and up-to-date studies about automated enforcement.  The site mentions Snitch Tickets, but not prominently;  to find the single article, you must either search for "fake ticket," or search for "California" then scroll through seventeen "California" index pages, to the bottom of the last page.
For the studies, click on Key Documents, then Statistics.





The July 2002 Red Light Camera Report by the California State Auditor
110-pages
http://www.bsa.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2001-125.pdf
A short critique of the California report, by a member of Cong. Armey's staff, is at:
http://www.politechbot.com/p-03801.html




Fight Your Ticket  ("FYT")
An Important Book - Available at Every Local Library

Fight Your 
Ticket cover 10th Edition   12th Edition  Fight Your 
Ticket cover 13th Edition  Fight Your 
Ticket cover 14th Edition  Fight Your 
Ticket cover 15th Edition
Cover, 11th Edition     Cover, 12th Edition     Cover, 13th Edition    Cover, 14th Edition   Cover, 15th Edition

The book Fight Your Ticket and Win in California by Attorney David W. Brown (Nolo Press) is an old friend, and an important resource.  FYT is the best guide available to the general traffic court procedures that are the same for all kinds of tickets, not just red light camera tickets.
Over the years, my friends and I have used FYT, very successfully, to deal with our radar speeding tickets, but FYT is still coming up to speed on red light camera tickets:   The 13th Edition (July 2009), the 14th Edition (July 2011), and the 15th Edition (July 2013) devote several more pages (at pages 254, 276 and 262, respectively) to red light camera tickets than did the 12th Edition;  they also warn about Snitch Tickets.
FYT is available at every public library - there will be circulating copies, plus a non-circulating copy behind the reference desk with the other Nolo Press books.  It is available from Amazon.com for about $20 (but don't buy an edition before the 13th), and at nearly every book store, usually for the list price of $29.99.  If you need a copy tonight, some county libraries have it available as an electronic download, or you can purchase it as an E-book for around $17.99, at Nolo.com . (At Nolo.com, the best way to find FYT is to type "Fight Your Ticket" into the search box.)  Avoid Nolo's similarly titled Beat Your Ticket.
I have written a
FYT Addenda page, which includes many useful index entries not found in the printed book.




National Motorists Association
Natl. 
Motorists Assn. logo - part of Info section

The NMA is an auto club which actually stands up for motorists.
Their website proclaims, "We are the organization largely responsible for the repeal of the 55-mph national speed limit... "
The website of the NMA contains a wealth of information about traffic law across the USA, many links, and a
section about red light camera tickets.

The NMA site contains a prominent warning about Snitch Tickets.

Much of the NMA's detailed info on how to fight a red light camera ticket is "limited access," but non-NMA members can get access for 24 hours, instantly, for $5.95.  Or, you can join, for $35.  The NMA and the books Fight Your Ticket (above), The CalAware Guide (below), and Smile for the Speed Camera (below), are the only paid products or services endorsed by highwayrobbery.net .
The NMA also operates the Speed Trap Exchange - see the bottom of this page for a link.




Logo: BanTheCams.org
BanTheCams.org has info about red light camera ticket programs throughout North America, including a blog with recent articles.




Highway Safety Group logo - part of Info section
The website of the privately-operated (and free-of-any-charge) Highway Safety Group includes a detailed (four-part)
history of the early days of red light cameras.




Help*I*Got*a*Ticket
is a free-of-charge website which goes into great detail about the general procedures for fighting a traffic ticket, including questions the author suggests that you ask in court.  (The editor of highwayrobbery.net recommends that like a good lawyer, you not ask any question that you don't already know the answer to!  So, you will still need to do your own research.)  The site includes two pages about red light cameras, which can be accessed directly at:
helpigotaticket.com/stra/redlight.html
The site warns motorists about Snitch Tickets.



S W I T R S
Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System
for
ACCIDENT STATISTICS AND REPORTS


Are you having trouble believing the amazing accident reduction claims made by the guys running your local red light camera program?  Do you want to see for yourself?

SWITRS reports from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System are available to cities and individual citizens, at no cost, from the Information Services Unit of the CHP.  If you want details of all the accidents going back a number of years at an intersection in your neighborhood, go to their website at
http://iswitrs.chp.ca.gov.  Please note that SWITRS will automatically send the city a copy of whatever they have provided to you.  For examples of SWITRS reports, see Set # 5 of Hawthorne Documents and Set # 12 of Culver City Documents.




highwayrobbery.net does not guarantee results!   
The image on the left is from the 2005 website of a company which offers to fight your ticket for you.
Please note that highwayrobbery.net does not guarantee results!


Other traffic ticket websites.  Paid, and free, including forums.




Links/Ref/FAQ Page:
- 2 -
Contacting Govt. Officials, The Court


Contacting the City

To find the website for "your" city, type "City of _________" into a Google search.



Contacting the Legislature

To contact your State legislator, see the Legislation section on the Action page of this website.



Contacting the Court

In every county there is a website for the courts.  It will contain the names of the judges, some extra phone numbers you may be able to use, and the Local Court Rules.  To get the URL, use this
official site, or type the name of the court into a Google search.  Example: "Los Angeles County Court."   The URL's for the courts of some of the larger counties are below.

http://www.alameda.courts.ca.gov
List of judges: http://alameda.courts.ca.gov/Pages.aspx/Judicial-Directory

http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org
List of judges: http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/judicialofficers/

http://www.occourts.org (Orange County)
List of judges: http://www.occourts.org/directory/judicial-officers/

http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/
List of judges: http://www.riverside.courts.ca.gov/judrost.pdf

http://www.sdcourt.ca.gov (San Diego County)
List of judges: http://www.sdcourt.ca.gov/portal/page?_pageid=55,1057194&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

http://www.saccourt.com (Sacramento County)
List of judges: http://www.saccourt.ca.gov/general/judicial-phone.aspx

http://www.sb-court.org/ (San Bernardino County)
List of judges: http://www.sbcounty.gov/courts/pdfs/misc/schedAssign.pdf

http://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/
List of judges: http://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=2511 (or, click on "Contacts")

http://www.sanmateocourt.org/
List of judges: http://www.sanmateocourt.org/general_info/judges/



Links/Ref/FAQ Page:
- 3 -
General Reference

(Powerful tools for all kinds of political and/or legal research)



Fight Your Ticket
David Brown's book Fight Your Ticket is in Section 1, above.




Looking Up California Codes & Rules of Court

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes.xhtml
Official State of California site (click on link above) allows you to look up any section of the Vehicle Code or other California code, such as the Public Records Act (Govt. Code 6250) or the rules for peremptory challenges (Code of Civil Procedures 170.6).
To look up the Rules of Court, go to:
http://www.courts.ca.gov/rules.htm/
And be sure to read about West's Annotated Codes, below.




West's Annotated California Codes
The State site (above) contains only the text of the codes.  If you would like to see information on how a particular Code section has been applied ("case law"), go to any large public library, or the small law library found in many courthouses, and look at the same code section in West's Annotated California Codes (WACC) - a large set of dark blue books.  The librarian will show you how to use it.  If you find a case mentioned in WACC and you want to read the whole court decision, write down the case citation (example:  People v. Williams, 28 Cal.4th 408) and get it using FindLaw.com (see below).  (The West's books are not re-issued every year, so be sure to check the updates in the "pocket part" that will be tucked into the back cover.)
WACC is available on the Internet, but only to those who pay West for a monthly subscription.



"Tracking" Bills in the California Legislature
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billSearchClient.xhtml
Official State of California site allows you to "track" bills in the legislature - both current ones, and old bills, 1993 and later.
(See the Legislation section on the Action page for more information about camera bills under consideration during the legislature's current session.)
The State's official site sometimes has a day or two of "lag" so may not have very recent amendments to bills, or warn you of meetings/votes that sometimes are held with notice given only the day (or evening) before.  For the crucial up-to-the-minute info, you will need to use the telephone.



California Ballot Propositions Database
http://library.uchastings.edu/library/california-research/ca-ballot-measures.html
Has information about all statewide ballot propositions including Prop. 8 of 1982 ("Truth in Evidence") and Prop. 115 - full text, ballot arguments, the vote tally.
(Note:  After you click on "search," nothing will come up until you click "display search results.")



Case Law at FindLaw
FindLaw Logo
http://www.findlaw.com
Has the complete text of State and Federal court cases, and much more.  It is free, but you will need to register, set up a password, and accept cookies.

To look up a California State court case:
On FindLaw's opening page go to the uppermost right-hand corner and click: "Visit our Professional Site."
On the left side of the next page find the heading "Browse Research Materials" and click: "California."
On the left side of the next page find the heading "California Research" and click: "Judicial Opinions."
On the next page, scroll down to the "State" heading on the left side and click: "California Supreme Court and Appellate Court Opinions since 1934."
On the next page, enter the case citation into the box or, if the only info you have is the name of one of the parties to the case, enter that name in the box provided.
Once FindLaw has found the case for you, it won't display the written decision until you log in.




L A W Y E R S

Use this
Bar Association site to look-up info about any California lawyer.  I also recommend doing a Google on their name.





The CalAware Guide - Getting Government Documents

( Sorry, there's no link - this is a book! )

This book tells you how to get access to public information, whether that information is contained in hidden government documents, or coming from a government meeting that should be open to the public, but isn't.
This book is a secret weapon !
It is The CalAware Guide to Journalism Law in California, by Terry Francke, General Counsel of Californians Aware (www.CalAware.org , (916) 487-7000).
The title may be misleading.  It might cause you to assume that all the Guide contains is instructions for journalists on how to cover city council and other government meetings.  It does cover that subject, in great depth, but it also has a whole chapter on the California Public Records Act, which is the State law that allows you extensive access to government documents (if you know your rights, and how to ask for access - also see highwayrobbery.net's
Getting Records page).

From the Guide's "Detailed Table of Contents," here are some of the questions covered.

DETAILED TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1

ACCESS TO STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION UNDER THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RECORDS ACT


• What is the California Public Records Act?
• Does the CPRA apply to federal records?

Making the Access Request

• Does the CPRA apply to all important records in state and local government?
• Must I have a “need to know” in order to have access to records under the CPRA?
• Must I make my CPRA access request in writing?
• Must I identify myself in making an access request?
• Must I reveal my purpose in making an access request?
• How well must I describe what I’m looking for?
• Can I require the agency to compile a list or report?
• Must the agency help me make an effective request?
• What can I be charged a fee for: Inspection? Copying?
• How soon must my request get a response?

Exemptions from Disclosure

• Does an exemption from disclosure mean that the agency cannot provide me with access?
• May the agency provide public access selectively - to certain favored persons but not me?
• If part of a record is exempt, may all of it be withheld?
• Are draft documents exempt from disclosure as such?
• Are litigation-related records exempt permanently?
• What kind of information can be withheld to protect personal privacy?
• Are the exact earnings of named government workers public or private?
• Are records of complaints and discipline against public employees exempt from disclosure?
• What about access to police and sheriff’s officers’ personnel records?
• Which law enforcement information is exempt from disclosure?
• If someone was robbed and raped, for example, does the fact of the rape allow withholding of the person’s name as the victim of a robbery?
• Must I sign something or provide proof that I am a journalist in order to get access to law enforcement information?
• Are the CPRA exemptions the only legal bases for withholding information?
• Can a record be withheld if it is not made expressly confidential by some statute?
• What is the deliberative process privilege?



Every journalist should have a copy of the Guide next to his computer.  The best journalists do, but the Weekly Bugle reporter covering the machinations of your local city council may not have even heard of it.  You may want to suggest that he or she get a copy. Or, you could give him or her a copy!
Every councilmember and school board member should be handed a copy on the day they're sworn into office.  The public information table at their meetings should have a copy for the public to read.
Every public library should have a few copies of this book.  Most don't have any.  If you want to make a contribution (inexpensively, and tax-deductibly) to open government (a.k.a. "Sunshine") in your town, buy your library a copy or two of this book.  If you do that, let me know what library it is in, and I will publish the address here.
Every high school and college government/political science instructor should have a copy.
Every City Clerk should have a copy on their public counter, and another on their own desk.
The Guide is over 300 pages of well-written, solid information (not even one cute cartoon).  The Table of Contents is organized in Q&A format (see sample, above), and there is a table of cases in the back.  Also included are the full language of the CPRA, the Brown Act and the Bagley-Keane Act, as well as perforated pages with request forms and other useful tools.  It is available in some college bookstores and public libraries, or can be ordered direct from CalAware at (916) 487-7000 or at
http://www.CalAware.org .  The direct-order cost is $22.50 per copy, including postage and tax, with a discount available on 10 or more copies.  And, if you would like to join Californians Aware, you don't have to be a journalist.  Individual members of the public are welcomed.



Links/Ref/FAQ Page:
- 4 -
FAQ
I have somewhat more hair than that.  Ed.
(Frequently-Asked Questions)




FAQ # 1:  I got a ticket for a rolling right turn.  In the picture, it looks like my brake lights were on.  That proves I stopped, doesn't it?

Answer:  Not necessarily.  Reflection of the camera's flash can make your brake lights look "on."  Look at your third stoplight - is it on?  You may have been braking to slow down for the corner, but didn't make the required full stop at the corner.

In most towns, the cameras take a 12-second-long video of the incident - and that video is up on a website so that you can look at it.  Go to the site and have a look.  If the video shows you made a full stop, or very close to one, ask the officer to dismiss your ticket.
If the video seems to show that you did not stop, but you don't believe it, here is an alternate way to determine if you stopped, or not. If the ticket is from a RedFlex camera, it will have a black "data strip" along the top edge of the before-and-after photos.  The numbers in the data strip should enable you to tell how much time elapsed between the 'before' and the 'after' photos.  ( You may have to subtract the time in the 'before' photo from the time in the 'after' photo.  If you are having trouble figuring out which numbers are which, have a look at the big "How to Read Your Late Time" box in Defect # 7 on the Home page.  And, if the white-on-black numbers are too faint to read, put the ticket up on a window, so that the light from outdoors comes through the paper. )  Once you know the elapsed time, do the following easy experiment.  Get a stopwatch and go to a corner that is similar to the one your ticket is from.  Make a full stop, then start the stopwatch, hit the gas, and time how long it takes you to get the same distance around the corner as was shown in the 'after' photo.  If the time it takes you is roughly equal to, or smaller than, the elapsed time calculated from your ticket, maybe you made a full stop, or very close to one!
Also see FAQs # 15, 27, 37 & 40.




Sign at Corona courthouse, removed May 11, 2011
Click for Bigger Image

FAQ # 2:  In Culver City, the Commissioner deliberately kept the monitor (used to display the photos) turned so that during trials the public could not see the photos.  Are the courts in other towns limiting to public's ability to observe red light camera trials?

Answer:  It is to your advantage to have members of the public observing your trial.  That's why we have the Sixth Amendment ("In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial...").  Let me know if "your" court is hiding the photos or doing anything else to interfere with the public's ability to attend and observe red light camera trials.  See also Set # 3 of Culver City Documents.  For more about the notice shown above (we have been told that it has been taken down), read this article.





FAQ # 3:  It's not me pictured on the ticket.  Am I required to disclose the identity of the person in the photo?

Answer:  No!  Why not?  See the "It's Not Me" section in the middle of the Your Ticket page.




Zsa Zsa Gabor
Zsa Zsa did 180 Hours of Community Service for Slapping a Beverly Hills Traffic Cop.

FAQ # 4:  If I take Community Service, how many hours will I have to do?  And, can I take traffic school too?

Answer:  Some judges will allow Community Service only if you are a full-time student or are on disability.  Others have no set rules as to who qualifies, but will try to discourage you from taking it - probably because their experience has been that many people won't do the hours required.  Most judges require 51 hours, but it can be as low as 16 hours, depending upon who is your judge.  See the Feb. 7, Feb. 18 and Sept. 4, 2003 entries in the Culver City chronology on the Camera Towns page.  And yes, some judges will let you take both community service and traffic school.




Digging for Docs

FAQ # 5:  I'm thinking about fighting my ticket and want to get some of the City's documents or records. How do I do that?

Answer:  You can do a "Discovery."  It's easy.  See:  Getting Records.




Greed

FAQ # 6:  Engineers who have studied red light running - those who do not stand to gain financially from the use of red light cameras - suggest that cities try alternatives to cameras before installing cameras.  What are these alternatives?

Answer:  Two alternatives are lengthening the yellow, and improving pavement markings.  Details, including a discussion of whether violations will "rebound" after the yellow is lengthened, are here:  Red light camera studies.






An Opticom Receiver on a Signal Arm

FAQ # 7:  I have seen small optical devices, high up on signal arms around town.  Are they some kind of red light camera?

Answer:  There are more and more devices mounted on poles around town, for all kinds of purposes.  Plus, there is no standardized look to red light camera equipment, as there are at least four companies competing in the field.
The device you saw could be an Opticom receiver, which picks up the white strobe flashes from emergency vehicles and then changes the signal to halt cross traffic.  Opticoms have been around for more than 40 years, and most cities have them.  On major routes through town, you will find Opticom receivers at every intersection.
Or, if what you saw looked more like a camera, and it was pointed downward at a steep angle (or almost straight down), it might be there - in place of loops in the pavement - to detect cars and control the signal cycle, or to measure the speed of cars to trigger a (separate) red light camera.
Red light camera systems can be recognized by their bulk.  They will have multiple devices, either in a single large cabinet or in separate, smaller enclosures.  Most red light camera systems, but not all, will also have a flash unit with a large silver reflector.  Some may use "non-visible" (to humans) infrared light, provided by multiple light-emitting diodes (LED's), for camera light.

RedFlex cam with Visible Light flash unit on arm   MRCA RedFlex cam with 'non-visible' flash   Close-up of LED 'non-visible' flash
RedFlex Cam with a Visible-Light Flash       RedFlex Cam with a Non-visible (LED) Flash         Close-up of LED Non-visible Flash    

Another way to tell if a city has red light cameras is to Google the name of the city ("City of ____") plus the words red light camera.  If the city has red light cameras or if the city council has discussed having them, Google will bring up newspaper articles.
If you're still not sure of what the device is, you could call the police department, or the public works department, and ask them.



FAQ # 8:  If you enter an intersection when the light is yellow, how far across the intersection do you have to be, when the light turns red, to NOT receive a red light camera ticket?

Answer:  In California, if any part of your car (or even the winch on your front bumper) is beyond the closest edge of the first limit line (or, if there is no limit line, the closest edge of the first line of the crosswalk) before the light becomes steadily red, it's legal for you to finish crossing the intersection, even if the light becomes steadily red long before you get to the other side.  See Cal. Veh. Code Sec. 21453(a), and also FAQ # 32 and Defect # 7 on this site.  And please note that in the rules may be different in other states - see Photos # 5 & 6 on this page.
A lot of people don't understand this law, including the columnist and the traffic school below.


Misleading newspaper column.
It's OK to be in intersection
when light turns red
Misleading column by Carl Love, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4-20-13


Incorrect information (highlighted in yellow).  From a traffic school !
Incorrect advice. From a traffic school!
Incorrect information (highlighted in yellow).  From a traffic school !
Also incorrect: The number # 1 cause of car crashes and car death is drunk driving, not red light running.



FAQ # 9:  I entered an intersection tonight when the light was yellow and as I went through I saw a flash from the camera.  Now I'm worried about receiving a ticket.  How long before I can relax when I go to my mailbox?

Answer:  The camera could have been flashing a car just behind you.  If it was you they were flashing, they have only 15 calendar days to send the ticket to you.  California Vehicle Code Section. 40518 says:

40518. (a)  "Whenever a written notice to appear has been issued by a peace officer or by a qualified employee of a law enforcement agency on a form approved by the Judicial Council for an alleged violation of Section 22451, or, based on an alleged violation of Section 21453, 21455, or 22101 recorded by an automated traffic enforcement system pursuant to Section 21455.5 or 22451, and delivered by mail within 15 days of the alleged violation to the current address of the registered owner of the vehicle on file with the department, with a certificate of mailing obtained as evidence of service, an exact and legible duplicate copy of the notice when filed with the magistrate shall constitute a complaint to which the defendant may enter a plea."

If you are the registered owner of the car and you have reliable mail service, you can relax if a ticket is not in your mailbox by about 2-1/2 weeks from now.  But if you find that you can't relax, are still worried that there might be a ticket out there, you could phone the Superior Court for the town where the camera is and ask the phone clerk if there is a ticket in your name.  Just keep in mind that some courts are overloaded with these tickets, and so may not have your ticket entered into their computer until a month (or more) after the date of the violation.

If you are not the registered owner:  The 15-day requirement applies only to the first mailing of the ticket, which is usually to the registered owner of the car.  If he or she gave your name to the police, who then re-issued the ticket to you, the 15-day requirement does not apply.

If you did get a ticket in the mail, be sure to read Defect # 8 on the Home Page.



FAQ # 10:  What about class action suits?

Answer:  There's some here in California, and a number of others around the country.  See the index to cases.



License plate  Spray can      App to warn of camera enforced locations

FAQ # 11:  What about GPS-based warning devices?  Or license plate covers, sprays, removing the front license plate, or even wearing a mask, so the camera can't get a clear photo of your plates or your face?

Answer:  There is a controversy as to whether reflective sprays (illegal in California with a $250 fine for sellers, under Assembly Bill 801) or covers (illegal under CVC 5201(f)) can actually blur the photos, as claimed by their marketers.  I would trust, and publish here, the results of a legibility test conducted by an organization having good technical credentials - but it is unlikely that Consumer Reports will ever do such a test.  I haven't made any attempt to conduct a test, either.  However, I can report that in my 8+ years of operating this website, I have never had someone tell me that they got a ticket despite using a spray or a cover.

At least one high-ranking police officer must believe that the covers work.  In Sept. 2011 New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas announced that NOPD Captain Mike Glasser was under investigation for using a questionable license plate cover on his take home police unit.

A number of manufacturers are marketing GPS-based hardware (TomTom, Garmin, Magellan) capable of warning you when you're approaching a location known to be equipped with a camera.  And, there are "apps" for smart phones.  The effectiveness of these warning systems will depend heavily upon the developer maintaining a very up-to-date data base of GPS coordinates - and users remembering to make a monthly download of the updates.  If these systems become popular,
some states may try to ban the use of them.
Even if you never speed or run red lights, you may need to purchase hardware or software to warn you when you're approaching a camera enforced location.  Why?  The drivers in front of you will be exhibiting unexpected behavior, like slamming on their brakes on a brand new yellow, or because they have "local" knowledge that there's a speed camera there, or because their system has just warned them of an upcoming camera.  The warning from your nav system will save you from rear-ending them - an accident for which the law would automatically hold you responsible.

Most newer red light camera installations take pictures of both ends of the car, so unbolting the front plate won't make a difference.

A fundamental problem with all the protective measures above is that the average person who gets a red light camera ticket is not a speeder or aggressive driver, but is older, drives at moderate speeds or with "the flow" and has a clean driving record, so has never thought he would get a camera ticket -- thus making it unlikely that he would purchase and install protective measures "just in case."

If you decide to wear a mask, be sure it doesn't cover your eyes or restrict your peripheral vision.  That's unsafe, and illegal, too.

If you would like to read more about sprays and warning devices, try the "Photo Enforcement" forum in the "Other Enforcement and Countermeasures" Section at RadarDetector.net.


Click for bigger pic




FAQ # 12:  Is it true that a ticket never gets mailed to you in the first place if the picture of the driver is unclear?

Answer:  This varies from city to city.  In one local city I've seen lots of tickets where you can't tell if the image behind the windshield is a person's head, or a small evergreen shrub.  And most people who get one of those, plead guilty and pay it!  Either because they don't know that there has to be a picture of your face, or because they're afraid that if they go to court (assuming they can afford to post the $490 bail) and fight the ticket and lose, they'll be denied traffic school - which happens about 20% of the time in that city.
See Defect # 1 on the Home page, the Snitch Ticket section on the Your Ticket page, and the class action information in the News section, below.



Vulture inspired by Smile for the Speed Camera

FAQ # 13:  Are speed cameras coming?

Answer:  Bills to legalize photo radar were introduced in the California legislature in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.  All failed to pass, but they could try again in 2013.  For info about any current bill, see the Legislation section on the Action page.
A little history:  Until 2007, there were some speed cameras already working - illegally - in California.  There's a little discussion about the illegal cameras in the Humor section below, and in the Los Angeles, MRCA, and San Jose sections on the Camera Towns page.  There's a book about speed cameras, in the Speeding Ticket section, below.



FAQ # 14:  I need it, but attended traffic school less than 18 months ago.  What do I do?

Answer:  See the "Alternatives" box in the Handling Your Ticket section on the Your Ticket page).




FAQ # 15:  Why is the fine so high in California ?  Are there exceptions?

Answer:  When defendants raise that question in court, the judges explain that the State legislature set the fine so high (current fine is approx. $490, not including the approx. $100 cost of attending traffic school) in order to strongly deter drivers from running red lights.  They also usually quote figures, provided by the local police, which say that accidents here are down 10 - 40% as the result of the cameras.  But on the East coast, where the fines are as low as $50 (and the tickets don't carry a "point"), the police there have been publishing similar accident reduction figures.  Evidently, at least on the East coast, a much smaller penalty has been equally effective in getting drivers to behave.

Draw your own conclusion as to why, absent a greater deterrence value, California's penalty needs to be so many times harsher.

Until recently, the City of San Francisco had, on its website, an explanation of how and why the fine grew from the initial $104 (in 1996).  That explanation is
archived.

The California legislature is continuing to increase the fine.  A new $20 surcharge went into effect on June 10, 2010 (enacted by Executive Session Bill ACX 8-3), and in the governor's 2010 budget proposal there was a new $40 surcharge which, had it been enacted (it was not), would have gone into effect on Jan. 1, 2011 - see the Legislation section on the Action/Legis page.

Once upon a time there was an exception to the sky-high fines.  Until Aug. 2008, the City of LA cited its rolling right turns under Subsection (b) of CVC 21453, instead of (a), which resulted in a much-lower fine - $159 including all fees (about $250 when today's higher surcharges are included).  For info about LA's formerly-reduced fine see the LA City Documents page, and for much more info about the difference between (a) and (b), see the big blue box on the
page about AB 909.  Around the state, a few judges offer lower fines to defendants with rolling right tickets, but most often it is just a $100 reduction.

Also see FAQs # 4, 16, 27, 37 & 40.




FAQ # 16:  Who gets the fine money?

Signal box painted like treasure chest

A signal control box in Tampa, Florida.
In Summer 2005, seventeen traffic signal control boxes were decorated in
various themes, as part of a City-run public art project.
The Treasure Chest design was sponsored by Sterling Payment Technologies, LLC. 

Answer:  Approximately $150 goes to the city - and the city will use most of that to pay the rent for the cameras.  The rest goes to Sacramento.  One city's description of how the money is split up is on pages 5 and 6 of this report.
If you would like a more official answer, you can look at this very complex official publication:  
Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule.




FAQ # 17:  How much do cities pay for the cameras?


Govt. flushing money down the drain

Answer:  Some cities pay three times as much as others!  In their initial contracts, nearly all California cities agreed to pay about $6000 per camera per month.  (California law prohibits cities from paying on a per-ticket basis.)  But now many of those initial contracts have expired, giving cities the opportunity to negotiate a lower rate upon renewal.  Some cities have negotiated hard, and now pay significantly less than $6000, often less than half!  Examples:

Bakersfield $3133, Baldwin Park $2615, Cathedral City $3500, Covina $2200, Culver City $3211, Davis $2500, Del Mar $1578, El Cajon (now closed) $3344, Escondido (closed) $2833, Gardena (closed) was paying $3500 and was offered $60,000 not to cancel the program (go to their Documents page to see how they negotiated), Garden Grove $2279, Hawthorne $2800, Laguna Woods (closed) $1750 (was paying $3000 but in June 2012 was offered a big discount after the City threatened to cancel the program), MTA/Metro $2200, Montebello $2500, Oceanside $3052, Oxnard $2733, San Francisco $2700, Solana Beach $2364, South Gate (closed) $2800, Ventura $2190, and West Hollywood $2742.  These cities are less likely to go into the red if yellows are lengthened as recommended in a 2012 government-funded study. (See the expanded version of Defect # 3 for more information about the NCHRP study.)

Other cities have agreed to continue paying much more, sometimes close to $6000!  Because red light camera contracts can involve multiple cameras over a term of 60 months or more, the penalty to a city for "failure to negotiate" (or failure to read the fine print) can amount to more than a million Dollars.  Here are some of those cities, along with the rent they agreed to pay for each camera each month (and, in parentheses, the total they will overpay - compared to a $3000 target rent - during their current renewal period):

 Belmont (now closed) $5870 ($137,760), Beverly Hills $5870 ($277,560), Capitola $5100 ($252,000), Citrus Heights $5500 ($540,000), Commerce $4200 ($345,600), Daly City $5520 ($604,800), Elk Grove $5870 ($620,000), Emeryville (closed) $6000, Encinitas $3700 ($176,400), Fremont $4995 ($1,605,600), Glendale (closed) $5500, Highland $5750 ($132,000), Los Alamitos $4576 ($270,000), Marysville $5500 ($600,000), Menlo Park $4950 ($468,000), Modesto $5500 ($840,000), Murrieta (closed) $4850, Napa $4710 ($86,040/year), Newark $5700 ($766,800), Oakland $4625 (proposed 3-year extension, $760,500), Poway (closed) $3696 ($208,800), Redding $4500 ($630,000), San Leandro $5200 ($1,056,000), San Mateo $4980 ($712,800), Santa Ana (closing in 2015) $3900 ($1,080,000), Santa Clarita $4000 ($600,000), Victorville $6000 ($900,000).  Elk Grove, in addition to paying too much, signed a two-year extension agreement which heavily penalizes the City if it does not agree to a further extension!

Some cities have negotiated the ability to quit with little notice.  In 2004 RedFlex agreed to a contract allowing the City of Modesto to end its contract with only ten days' notice, penalty free, once the cameras are 60 months old.  In 2010 RedFlex agreed to contract terms allowing Montebello and South Gate to end their contracts with only 30 days' notice, penalty free.  And in 2011 RedFlex agreed to a contract allowing the City of Napa to end its contract with only 10 days' notice, penalty free.  Other cities, such as Victorville and San Bernardino, struggled, unsuccessfully, to escape from their contracts.  In 2013, the Menlo Park city council, after some discussion, agreed to a unique-in-California contract clause requiring a supermajority 4/5 vote in order to cancel!  They also agreed to pay a cancellation penalty of as much as $200,000.

In June 2012 RedFlex offered the City of Riverside (closing Sept. 2014) a $300,000 discount when their Public Works Director recommended the cancellation of the program.  (We don't know if the City eventually received the discount, or forgot about it.)  This contrasts with the vigilance shown in another
instance, where staff caught an error in the monthly billing which could have cost the City $48,000 annually.

RedFlex gave the City of Baldwin Park a $350,000 credit towards past camera rent, and a $75,000 credit during each year of the renewal term.

The contracts for all these cities are available on their respective Documents pages, here at highwayrobbery.net.


Why Do They Pay So Much?

It could be bribery.  In 2013 a former RedFlex Executive VP alleged that there was bribery in thirteen states - see FAQ # 34.

A another explanation for the failure of so many towns to negotiate a good price could be that the police who do the negotiation have grown too close to their counterparts at the camera company.  A local newspaper obtained
emails revealing that in one city, the deputy chief responsible for negotiating the city's red light camera contract was asking the camera company about employment at the same time she was negotiating the contract, and the sergeant who ran the program was offering to assist the company with lobbying and marketing.



FAQ # 18:  A friend pointed out to me that an article about my City states that the company operating the cameras is paid per ticket, and from what I know California lawmakers made that illegal on Jan. 1, 2004.  Seems too unbelievable that such information would slip past the City.  If the writer is correct, lots of tickets are going to be dismissed.

Answer:  There's a loophole in the law.  Reporters never seem to catch it, but cities that are operating under a contract that they signed prior to Jan. 1, 2004 may continue to pay the camera company on a per-ticket basis.  They're grandfathered.  The presence of the loophole caused a gold rush in late December 2003 - cities were signing contracts like crazy (and some made disadvantageous deals).  See Subsection 'B' of Defect # 10 on the Home page, and the discussion of AB 1022 on the Action page.





Berkeley red light camera
warning sign - not photoshopped
Giant Photo Enforced sign in Berkeley, removed in late 2013.  Will rearenders be down, post-2013?

FAQ # 19:  What about all those studies saying that photo enforcement is good for us?  Have red light cameras really increased the incidence of rear-enders?  And is the claim that cameras decrease serious accidents valid?

Answer:  It is now generally accepted that cameras do increase rear-enders.  But I am a guy who has to "see it for himself."  I reviewed ten years of accident reports at Newport / 17th in Costa Mesa, and found a near-doubling of rear-enders since the camera went in (my count of rear-enders there appears in the third paragraph of the letter in Set # 10 of Costa Mesa Documents).

A 2013 report prepared by City of Encinitas engineering staff showed that rear-enders there increased after the cameras were installed.  (The staff report is linked in Set # 5 on the
Encinitas Documents page.)

See also the Dueling Studies section on my
Industry PR page.




FAQ # 20:  I am looking at the photo they sent me and I don't believe the signal really is red.  It looks orange!

Answer:  I have noticed that the red signal light often looks very orange (or yellow) on the photos that are printed on the tickets.  It happens more often in cities that use video-based ticketing (as opposed to the older 35mm "wet film" cameras).  So how can you tell if it is a red, or a yellow, that you are looking at?
Most often, you can tell by the position of the light on the "backboard," the rectangle of flat black metal that surrounds most lights.  If the light is near the top (or above the center) of the rectangle, it's a red.  If it's in the middle, it's a yellow.
If you can't see the edges of the backboard because there is something dark in the background behind it, you may be able to use a nearby object as a reference point.  For example, in the photos below, the red arrow is just above the top edge of the square white sign, and the yellow is well below that top edge.  (It may be necessary to go out to the intersection, stand near where the camera is, and see what lines-up;  you may want to take a small stepladder with you - but don't block the red light camera's lens with your head as you could be accused of obstructing justice.)

I used my own camera to take these photos (above) of the signal at eastbound Jefferson / Overland in Culver City;  as a result, the backboard stands-out from the dark trees much more than it does on a real ticket, and the colors are truer.  Here (below) is my attempt to simulate what these same photos would look like on a real ticket mailed to a motorist.


(Actually, this came out better than how they look on a real ticket.)

But sometimes you may be right - it really IS yellow. Look at this photo.



(For more information about the lamps, and this photo, see Defect # 7.  And, for scientific information about the wavelengths of traffic light lamps - including a comparison of incandescent vs. LED, see
this page.)




FAQ # 21:  I heard that two men were convicted of perjury on a red light camera ticket.  And jailed!

Answer:  That's true.  During a Long Beach, California red light camera ticket trial in December 2003 the driver told the traffic court commissioner hearing the case that there had been some teenage carjackers chasing him, and that's why he ran the light.  He brought along a friend who testified he had been a passenger in the car.  He confirmed the driver's story.  Unfortunately for the driver and "passenger," the video of the violation showed that there was no one in the passenger seat of the violator's car.  The commissioner, believing he had been lied to, referred the case to the district attorney's office for criminal prosecution.  In Oct. 2004, after a one-day trial where the commissioner testified against them, both men were convicted of felony perjury and were sentenced to 120 days (driver) and 90 days (passenger) in jail.

In 2010 an English taxi driver was sentenced to 8 months in jail for "perverting the course of justice," after she used fake car repair documents in an attempt to prove that a problem with her taxi's brakes was to blame for her red light tickets.  
Article.

The moral (or irony) of these stories is that even though the police seem to be perjuring themselves (see the 2014 decision in
People v. Tho--) and avoiding jail for doing it, you must not follow their lead.



You are on the Links/Ref/FAQ page

Equality Hands   "FRE R1DE" plate, Rick Ngoc Ho, OC Register
                        License plate by Rick Ngoc Ho, OC Register

FAQ # 22:  "You know, one beautiful thing about cameras, they don't care if you're an off-duty cop, (or) anything like that, everyone is equal under the law."  [From an Internet post.]

Answer: The post-er suggests that the cameras are democratic, that they don't "profile" - or play favorites - that the police give out tickets equally to all, including rich guys, connected bureaucrats, law enforcement officers off-duty or on, the mayor, their friends and family, and local voters.

I disagree.  I think cameras make favoritism the "default" condition, and make racism nearly impossible to detect.

Favored by default:  Bureaucrats and govt. "insiders."
 An April 2008 Orange County Register article ("Special License Plates Shield Officials from Traffic Tickets") pointed out that in California there were nearly one million private vehicles having "confidential" license plate numbers protected from easy or efficient look up, making those vehicles' owners effectively invisible to agencies attempting to process parking, toll, and red light camera violations.  In 2009 the Register reported that the legislature was extending the "confidential" treatment to even more people!
(For comparison, the State of Arizona has 22,539 cars on its protected list, Illinois has 5867, Maryland has 8303, Pennsylvania has 8200, and Texas has 18,323.  Source.)
In Feb. 2010 a bill was launched in Sacramento to address the problem, but it failed to pass.  In 2011 it was re-launched, but an amendment made it into a bill highwayrobbery.net could not support - and it too failed to pass.  (The official analysis of the 2011 bill revealed that by then the number of confidential registrations had risen to 1.5 million.)  In 2012 there was another try.  And in 2013 there was AB 487 - see the Legislation section on the Action/Legis page.
Further reading:
In a 2001 State Senate hearing they discussed several instances where our State legislators were flashed but never received tickets (see page 14 of the transcript or page 16 of the pdf).
On Nov. 9 and 11, 2010 the Sacramento Bee wrote and editorialized about the protected plates.
On Dec. 12, 2010 Thomas Peele and Josh Richman of the Contra Costa Times wrote about toll scofflaws in the Bay Area.
In Feb. 2010 Reason Magazine published a Steven Greenhut article entitled "Class War - How Public Servants Became Our Masters."
To see the list of occupations eligible for protected plates, see CVC 1808.4, CVC 1808.2, and CVC 1808.6.
On May 19, 2011 Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel published an audit (see page 28) showing that 30% of the parking tickets issued to cars with protected plates never were paid.  An estimated 11,250 unpaid tickets, in five years.
To see the DMV's "Request for Confidentiality of Home Address" form - which is one of the very few DMV forms not available on the DMV's website - click Form # INV32.

Text Continues Below

Steve Jobs' car, with no plates
Steve Jobs' Car, No Plates

Favored by default:  Drunks.  If a "live" cop sees a motorist run a red and the motorist has been drinking, the motorist will go to jail for DUI, while a red light camera will let him off with a fine, and nothing will be done about his habit of drinking and driving until he causes an accident or kills someone.

Favored by default:  The uninsured and unregistered.   When a "live" cop pulls someone over, he will check for insurance and registration, and confiscate the car if there is none. But with a camera ticket there is no demand to prove that you are insured and registered.  Why is that?  Also see FAQ # 38.

Geographic profiling:  Here in California, no city issues a ticket to 100% of the people photographed - the average is well below 50%.  There is a selection process, done by humans.  ( While I am not suggesting that either of the following cities profiles, their statistics demonstrate the potential to do so.  For example, in 2004 San Francisco photographed 29,335 cars but issued only 7943 tickets.  Los Angeles, in 2003, photographed 8678 cars but issued 3981 tickets.  These figures - from the Camera Towns page - are old.  But they remain typical. )   We would hope that the police personnel doing the selection would throw out only the tickets where the photos are too blurry, but what is to stop them from giving a free pass to the mayor and the "locals," people who live (and vote) in town?
"Locals" have a further advantage - they know where the cameras are.

In April 2014 the City of Highland disclosed that 94% of its tickets went to visitors.
In February 2014 the City of Commerce disclosed that 98.5% of its tickets went to visitors.
In August 2013 the City of Menlo Park disclosed that 90% of its tickets went to visitors.
In June 2013 the City of Belmont disclosed that 85% of its tickets went to visitors.
In June 2013 the City of Fremont disclosed that 69% of its tickets went to visitors.
In August 2014 the City of Napa disclosed that 75% of its tickets went to visitors.
In March 2014 the City of Lynwood disclosed that 77% of its tickets went to visitors.
In May 2013 the City of San Rafael disclosed that 78% of its tickets went to visitors.
In March 2014 the City of South San Francisco disclosed that 80% of its tickets went to visitors.

Racial profiling:  In 2012 the Marin County Grand Jury found,  "Cameras are incapable of racial profiling and therefore not subject to lawsuits alleging racial bias," but did not offer evidence or discussion to support their finding.  On the east coast ("owner responsibility" states), the camera tickets do not require a photo of the driver's face, but out here in the west ("driver responsibility" states) there has to be a good photo of the driver, and that "face photo" provides the potential for racial profiling.

Wealth profiling:  Every ticket shows the year, make and condition of the vehicle.

Age profiling: The average age of those ticketed is 47, and very few are under the age of 26.  Yellows set at the minimum legal length are a test of one's athleticism - which declines with age.  Ticketing older drivers is a lucrative business plan - older drivers are concerned about their insurability so are more likely to pay up without a fight, and also are more likely to have the money.

Perhaps the Legislature foresaw the possibility of profiling or favoritism when they wrote the CVC 21455.5 requirement that cities shall develop "uniform guidelines for screening and issuing violations."  See Defect # 10 - A on the Home page for more about guidelines.

The legislature did not specify the content of the guidelines, but I suggest that there should be a requirement that the name, address and face photo of the driver not be visible to the city personnel making the final decision whether the ticket is to be issued, or not.

I also suggest that there be a mechanism to assure that the insiders on the protected list get their fair share of the tickets.  In 2010 there was a bill in California's legislature to do just that.  It failed to pass, was re-launched as AB 3 in the 2011 session, which failed to pass, and then again as AB 2192 in the 2012 session.  Which also failed to pass.  There was a new bill in 2013, which also failed to pass.  Read about it near the top of the Action/Legis page.

Although it is not profiling - it is due to the limitations of the equipment - a large proportion of violators never even get flashed.  See FAQ # 27.



FAQ # 23:  What's the difference between a trial and an arraignment?

Answer:  The terms are not interchangeable.  Read about them in the big green Terminology box on the Your Ticket page.




Big Cop in Toy Car

FAQ # 24:  Can I argue (in my defense) that this was a speed trap?

Answer:  I don't think much of the speed trap defense - that they measured your speed over some loops or were using radar - against a red light camera ticket.  I have never seen the simplistic "the camera uses loops, or a radar, therefore it is a speed trap" defense work, on any red light ticket.  When judges hear that defense they say that they don't need the (possibly illegally-obtained) speed reading to convict you, and will ignore your speed, because they have a photo (or a video) showing your car behind the limit line when the light was red.  "Truth in Evidence" (see section on this website) allows them to do such things.
In the landmark San Diego case People vs. John Allen, the judge explained why he would not accept the speed trap defense.  Read that May 29, 2001 ruling
here.
The speed trap defense is pushed by other Web advisors, and I realize that no matter what I say, you may decide to throw "speed trap" into your defense along with whatever other defenses you have.  But please consider that the judge has probably heard the "canned" speed trap defense from many other defendants before you, and may have developed a knee-jerk reaction when he hears the familiar wording (or sees it in a TBD).   So, if you are going to use this defense, and have picked-up the text somewhere on the Internet, at least change the wording some.
There is a portion of the "Speed Trap" law that could work, on a red light camera ticket.  If you feel that the Posted Speed on the street where you were cited is way too low, read Defect # 3 on the Home page.
And, if you got a speeding ticket, and radar was used, you definitely want to look at the Speed Trap law.  See the Speeding Ticket section near the bottom of this page.




Ambulance with flashing lights

FAQ # 25:  What if I had to run the signal, because of a tailgater, road-rager, sirens, medical emergency, etcetera?

Answer:  This is a legitimate defense, but doesn't work very often.  It is called a "necessity defense."  Vehicle Code Section 21462 says, "The driver of any vehicle... shall obey... any official traffic signal... unless otherwise directed by a police or traffic officer or when it is necessary for the purpose of avoiding a collision or in case of other emergency...."
A lot of people tell the judge that there was a siren behind them.  Because they have heard it so much, the judges won't take anyone's word for it.  I suggest that you try to get proof.  See if the emergency vehicle or the tailgater is visible in the still photos or video of the violation.   Or try to figure out what city's fire department would have been on that street (could be an ambulance from a neighboring city, heading to a hospital or regional trauma center), contact that fire department and ask for records of runs.  Sometimes the color of the fire trucks will help you figure out what city they were from.  Get a printout, or a letter from them.  You will have a far better chance of winning than someone who brings no documentation with them.
I have seen just a few cases where a necessity defense was successful.

1.  There was a police chase, and the defendant had proof (Culver City, 11-14-02).
2.  A woman was being followed from a mall by people with whom she had had words (Culver City, 12-5-02).
3.  The engine was sputtering / about to quit, immediately after visit to nearby car dealer's repair facility (Hawthorne, 12-14-04).
There is a discussion about necessity defense, at http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=34826 .
A famous case (although the defendant lost) is
People v. Ausen, 40 Cal.App.2d Supp. 831.




FAQ # 26:  I paid my ticket months ago and now I hear they are throwing them out.

Answer:  The court is probably dismissing current tickets, either at arraignment, or at trial.   It is rare for them to reach back into time and voluntarily (without you asking for it) reverse old tickets that have already been paid off, but here are some examples:  3018 East LA tickets in 2003, 569 Costa Mesa tickets and 613 Bakersfield tickets in 2004, 3000 Union City tickets in 2005, 1000 San Bernardino tickets in 2008, 411 San Carlos tickets in 2009.
Napa (in 2011) gave us an example of a city dismissing only the unpaid tickets.
But you could try to re-open your case, make the same argument that is getting the current tickets dismissed, and get your money back.  There's a catch, though.  It is harder to re-open a case once it's been closed for more than six months.  Your case would have closed on the date that you turned in the traffic school certificate (or, if you did not attend TS, the date you finished paying your fine).   If it has been more than six months since then, I don't even know what the re-opening process is.   I just know that it is more complex.  But if it has been less than six months, you make the request by filling-out a one-page form ("Bail Forfeiture Set Aside Motion to Re-open Case"), at the clerk's window.
Some more info about re-opening is on the Bakersfield Documents page, Set # 7.  Note that this simple process would not apply to a case where you went to trial and were found guilty.




       Tapco blank out sign 24" x 24" no right turn
                                                        LED "Blank Out" Sign

FAQ # 27:  Two frequent questions about right turns!

Question A:  I got a ticket for a right turn, but there was no sign there saying I couldn't turn right.

Question B:  I went back to where I got my ticket and lots of cars weren't getting flashed when they rolled around the corner.  Why me?

Answer A:  At most intersections in California you're allowed to make a right turn at a red signal, but only if you come to a full stop first.  There is no requirement for the city to post signs at right turns saying "Stop Before Turning" or something like that.  If the authorities want to prohibit right turns on red, they will put up a sign saying "No Right Turn on Red," or they will equip the signal to display a lighted red right-turn arrow.  See Sign Requirements (at the bottom of that page) for more details.

Answer B:  To my knowledge, the red light camera makers have not devised a good way (reliable, cheap, not too technical for a judge to understand) to measure a right-turning car's speed right at the limit line.  Since the camera computer doesn't know for sure if you made a full stop at the limit line, or were doing a couple mph as you crossed the line, the computer has to use other information in order to make its decision to flash you, or not.  What most systems do is measure your speed at a measuring point (usually a couple of rectangular "loops" in the pavement) about five feet before the limit line, and use that speed to predict whether it will be physically possible for you to stop in the short amount of road remaining.

Red light camera loops, for right turn
Rectangular "Loops" in Pavement in a Right Turn Lane

They know that if at the measuring point you are going faster than a certain "trigger speed" (my term) or "threshold speed" (their term) - set by them somewhere between 10 and 18 mph - you will have no choice but to roll the corner.  Unless you have great brakes and wide, sticky tires.  The motorists who don't get flashed are the ones going slower than the trigger speed at the previously mentioned measuring point.  They may roll past the limit line and around the corner at a speed equal to yours, or greater, but if their approach to the area was slow - below the trigger speed - they will not trigger the camera.  Here's another depiction of the same idea:

Car
Speed 50 ft. before intersection
Speed over measuring loops
Speed at Limit Line
Flashed?
X
Doesn't matter
Trigger Speed or more
Doesn't matter
Yes
Y
Doesn't matter
Less than Trigger Speed
Doesn't matter
No

For one city's report discussing trigger speed, see the bottom paragraph on page 2.6.3 of
this report.  Also, have a look at FAQs # 15, 22, 37 & 40.




FAQ # 28:  Will I lose my "right to a speedy trial" if I enter my not guilty plea by mail, phone, Internet, or at the clerks' window?

Answer:  Yes!  CVC Section 40519, the statute which permits pleading by mail, says, "Any person using this procedure shall be deemed to have waived the right to be tried within the statutory period."  And in 2010, Section 40519 was amended to make things even clearer.  They added:  "A plea of not guilty under this section must be made in court at the arraignment."  In Fight Your Ticket, David Brown says, "In avoiding a separate court date for arraignment, you give up your right to insist on a trial within 45 days afterward."  So, my recommendation is that if you want to be 100% sure of retaining your right to speedy trial, you should enter your not guilty plea in front of a judge.
If you do a Trial by Declaration, you effectively give up your right to a speedy trial, including on any Trial de Novo.  See:  
People v. Benhoor.





Don't panic, it isn't true!  See FAQ # 29.

FAQ # 29:  If I fight my case, won't I lose the right to attend traffic school?

Answer:  Defendants who go to trial and lose can still ask for traffic school (either kind), although the granting of it after trial is at the discretion of the judge.

If the phone attendants at the courthouse or the central phone bank are telling callers that there is no traffic school after trial, call back, ask for the Senior Court Manager, and complain.
If at the beginning of the trial session the bailiff in the courtroom is telling defendants that there is no traffic school after trial, or discussing traffic school in any other way that you feel is arm-twisting or coercive, complain at the bailiff's office in the courthouse.  Bailiffs should not be doing the judge's dirty work!
If at the beginning of the trial session your judge announces to everyone that there is no traffic school after trial, or indicates that while there is a chance of getting it, the chance is very, very small, do a Challenge.  See the Editorial below (in box) for details.




Distracted Driver

FAQ # 30:   Tonight, as I was looking for a particular business, I drove a little past the line on a red light camera intersection where the light was red.  I stopped before the back tires went over the line and backed up but the lights all went off.  I'm wondering if I'll still get a ticket and if there's a way to fight it since I didn't actually go through the intersection.

Answer:  Technically it is a violation.  Legally, it does not matter that you didn't intend to run the light, as "specific intent" is not required.  But if the pictures show that you stopped and backed up, maybe the cop who decides which tickets get mailed out (and which ones don't) will give you a break.   If he does mail you a ticket, you could phone him and see if you can convince him to withdraw it.  (Before you phone him, make sure that it is not a Snitch Ticket - see the Your Ticket page.)  If talking to the cop doesn't work, you could plead not guilty, go to trial, and see if the judge will give you a break.




FAQ # 31:   I wanted to try to request an extension and searched online, as well as called the automated phone service - but I couldn't find my citation number.  It didn't pop up!  I even searched thru my driver's license, and an old ticket only came up.
Do you think that I am in the clear - that they have no record of my ticket? And that I don't have to pay for this?

Answer:  I can think of two possibilities.
1.  It could be a Snitch (Fake) Ticket, as described on my Your Ticket page.
2.  The court could be backlogged, due to the influx of so many new (automated) tickets, and simply hasn't had a chance to get it into their computer.  At least one court (see the Bakersfield Documents page, Set # 4) has publicly admitted being swamped.  But the courts always seem to catch up, so I don't recommend ignoring the ticket.

You could try phoning one of the live operators, see if they can find your ticket.  Or, though I haven't personally tried it, I suppose you could mail them a request for the extension. Just be sure to do it by certified mail, return receipt requested.




FAQ # 32:   In the first picture (on the ticket) my front bumper is right at the limit line.  Because of the angle the picture is taken from, it's possible that my bumper may have been over the limit line.  So why did they ticket me?

Answer:  The cameras are set up to always take the first photo with the car close to the limit line, without regard to how long the signal had been red.  So, the photo you see could have been taken when the signal had been red for 0.1 second, or even 4.0 seconds.  You can't tell from the photo how late you were.  Most cities indicate, somewhere on the ticket, your Late Time.   But a few choose not to, even though their system is capable of doing so and may have done so in the past.  In those cities, you won't be able to tell how late you were unless you contact the police (they sometimes insist that you come in to view the photos), OR file a discovery which would force them to send the information to you.
See also FAQ # 8, and the big purple "How to Read Your Late Time" box in Defect # 7 on the Home page.




FAQ # 33:   They have a picture of my license plates - isn't that enough to prove it was me, and convict me?

Answer:  No, not in California!  In this state they have to have a picture of your face.  They have to convince the judge that YOU personally did the crime.  Someone else could have been driving your car.  See Defect # 1 on the Home page.




Red light camera company names - alphabet soup

FAQ # 34:  Who are all the camera companies?  It looks like alphabet soup!

Answer:  They are, in order of national prominence, largest coming first -

ATS

ATS (American Traffic Solutions, atsol.com) is headquartered in Arizona, and is privately held.  In Sept. 2008 Warren Buffett, owner of
many businesses including Geico (known to have donated radar guns to the police), See's Candies, Benjamin Moore Paints, Ben Bridge Jewelers, Fruit of the Loom, Helzberg Diamonds, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services (real estate brokers), and Johns Manville, invested $5 billion in Goldman-Sachs which, later that month, invested $58 million in ATS, for a 1/3 share.
The Sept. 2009 articles about ATS' purchase of rival Nestor indicated that before purchasing Nestor, ATS had contracts with 170 communities in 17 states.  Among the Nestor customers ATS inherited was the City of Santa Maria; in Nov. 2009 the City announced that ATS had - "...against the City's wishes..." - terminated the contract, and would be removing the cameras within 30 days.  As of July 2012 ATS had contracts with these California cities:   Capitola, Cathedral City, Cerritos, Covina, Davis, Millbrae, Murrieta (program closed in Dec. 2012), San Bernardino (program closed in Dec. 2012), San Diego (program closed in 2013), San Juan Capistrano (program closed in Sep. 2012), and South San Francisco (closing in Aug. 2014).
In May 2011 ATS was in the news twice, once because of its heavy-handed use of
Astroturf lobbying, which led to the suspension of one of its vice presidents.  Then, that same month it fired another VP and filed suit against him for (allegedly) "diverting opportunities away from ATS," while working for ATS.  Article.  In 2012 ATS was in the news again as the company was suspected of funding a lawsuit, fronted by a Murrieta resident, to force an anti-camera initiative off that City's Nov. 2012 ballot.
In 2014 we found out about (alleged)
Prevailing Wage violations by ATS.

ATS has a lot of lawyers, and they are top notch, smart, aggressive.  Any city council considering signing a contract with ATS should ask itself:  "Do we feel lucky?  Is our city attorney as smart as their attorneys?  Does our guy understand these contracts as well as they do?  Will they sue us like they are suing those other cities?"  For more reading about ATS and its lawyers, see the Murrieta and San Bernardino Documents pages here at highwayrobbery.net, and also Google ATS and Houston, Texas and Bellingham, Washington.
In June 2012 it was
reported that thieves have been stealing components of ATS' camera systems.
In Aug. 2013 ATS failed to win the contract to run the 384 red light cameras in Chicago, Illinois.  The City awarded the contract to Xerox/ACS.

RedFlex

RedFlex Traffic Systems, Inc. (Redflex.com) is an Australian company traded on the Australian stock exchange as RDF.AX.  In early 2011 shareholders rejected a $304 million purchase offer from the Carlyle Group and the Macquarie Group.  RedFlex' US operation is headquartered in Arizona.  RedFlex operates the majority of the camera systems in California.
In Oct. 2012 the Chicago Tribune revealed that RedFlex had paid the $910 hotel bill of a City of Chicago official.  The City reacted by disqualifying RedFlex from bidding to install and operate a proposed speed camera system.
Then, in Feb. 2013, a new
investigation revealed that the (allegedly) illegal payments were much more extensive - as much as $2 million.  RedFlex fired the vice president associated with the (allegedly) illegal payments, and later sued him.  Chicago disqualified RedFlex from bidding to renew its existing contract running Chicago's 384 red light cameras (and in Aug. 2013 the City awarded the contract to Xerox/ACS).  The disqualifications caused RedFlex stock to lose over half of its value and its Market Cap to drop as low as $88 million (less than 1/3 of the $304 million 2011 purchase offer).
In Feb. 2013, President Karen Finley and two more top officers of the US operation resigned.
The (alleged) corruption may not be limited to Chicago.  On page 22 of the
financial report it issued in Mar. 2013, RedFlex warned:
"Further, the current investigations may identify other instances of similar dealings with the City of Chicago and/or other jurisdictions."
Then, in an Oct. 2013 formal response to the suit against him (see link above), a former RedFlex vice president alleged that bribery occurred in at least thirteen states.
In May 2014 Federal prosecutors filed bribery
charges against John Bills, a City employee who managed the Chicago program, and in Aug. 2014 they filed charges against former RedFlex president Finley as well as RedFlex consultant and (alleged) Chicago go-between Martin O'Malley.

In May 2014 RedFlex disclosed that it expected to lose money; that disclosure caused the stock to lose 19% of its value.

Also in 2014 we found out about (alleged)
Prevailing Wage violations by RedFlex, in twelve California cities.

There is a website
FireRedflex.com exclusively about RedFlex' (alleged) misdeeds.

Redflex demise, by Camera Fraud
Illustration by CameraFraud.wordpress.com



Xerox/ACS

In 2001 ACS (Affiliated Computer Services, then listed on the NYSE as ACS) purchased the red light camera systems then operated by Lockheed.  In early 2010 Xerox bought ACS for $6.4 billion.  The new (formal) name is Xerox State and Local Solutions, but we will refer to them as Xerox/ACS, or just ACS.  The red light camera section of their website is at http://www.acs-inc.com/public-safety-services/photo-enforcement-program.aspx.  ACS is also discussed in Defect # 5 on the Home page.  In California, ACS has contracts with the Los Angeles MTA/Metro (cameras adjacent to busways and light rail lines) and the cities of San Francisco and West Hollywood.  In Aug. 2013 ACS won the contract to run the 384 former RedFlex cameras in Chicago, Illinois.

Nestor and Transol

Nestor Traffic Systems (nestor.com), of Providence, RI, was taken over by a court-appointed receiver in June 2009, and then in Sept. 2009 was purchased by ATS, for $7.1 million cash.  The articles about the sale said that at the time of the sale, Nestor had contracts with about 25 municipalities in nine states.  The Providence Journal reported that the other bidders for Nestor were the Nestor management team, called B2H3, and RedSpeed USA (not related to RedFlex).

TranSol (Transportation Solutions) was acquired by Nestor in Aug. 2005.




Oakland / Overstock Coliseum
Regional Draw:  The Overstock.com Coliseum, in Oakland, Two Cameras Nearby at 66th & San Leandro

Reseda Bl. at Busway, LA, CA
Info Overload:  Reseda Blvd. crossing Oxnard Street, the Orange Line Busway, a bike path, and Topham Street - all in 200 feet - site of a camera operated by the LA County Metro/MTA
(The Orange Line has many similarly crowded crossings.)

FAQ # 35:  What are the most common camera locations?

Answer:  Most camera tickets go to visitors to town (see Geographic Profiling, in FAQ # 22).  Be on guard when visiting regional draws such as CostCo's, other big box stores, auto malls (don't buy a car in a camera town!), colleges and universities, stadiums, airports, convention centers, medical centers, museums and historical sites, amusement parks, and race tracks (see the Inglewood section).  The cameras will be concentrated on the route from the freeway to the draw, and back - sometimes right at the foot of the freeway ramp.

Cameras often will be on right turns and left turns, as there aren't enough "straight through" violations to make cameras pay.  An increasingly popular location for enforcement is the turns to get on or off the freeway.

Cameras are more likely at unusual, complicated, or confusing intersections - where there is what engineers call "high information load" - your attention is divided between looking at the signal and figuring out the intersection. Examples would be where the roads come together in a "T" or a "Y," or on a curve in the road, or where a freeway offramp is merging onto the road, or where there's several signals in a row, close together.  There often will be a lot of pavement markings and official signs adding to the distraction.




FAQ # 36:  Will the officer who signed my ticket be the one who appears at my trial?

Answer:  Not necessarily.  It may not need to be the same officer.  In fact, it might not need to be a sworn officer - it can be a clerk! (And in some cities, it may have been a clerk, not a sworn officer, who issued the ticket in the first place!)

From a 2001 ruling in the famous case that shut down San Diego's first red light camera system:
"Penal Code Section 960 provides that "no accusatory pleading is insufficient, nor can the trial, judgment, or other proceedings thereon be affected by reason of a defect or imperfection in matter of form which does not prejudice a substantial right of the defendant upon the merits." This section saves the defects relating to Penal Code section 959.1. The information presented at trial remains the same whether the accusatory pleading is sworn or not. The defendant has the opportunity at trial to respond to the evidence, and the police officer who testifies may not be the same police officer who reviewed the citation. In effect, the police officer who testifies at trial is testifying as an expert witness and interprets the factual data which is evidenced by the photographs and the digital information imposed on the photograph. Therefore, there is no prejudice to a substantial right of the defendants on the merits and any defect and failure to comply with Penal Code section 959.1 does not justify dismissal."
From Section III(C) of the Aug. 15, 2001 ruling in People vs. John Allen.

The P. v. John Allen ruling is far from the last word, though.  Recently, in 2009 and 2011, we have seen US Supreme Court decisions arguing that it is a violation of one's right to confront your accusers when the people who make the evidence against you aren't actually in court to be cross examined.  See Defect # 10 - D.

In a few cities, the tickets are issued and signed by a clerk, although it will usually be a sworn officer who comes to court for trial.  CVC 40518 allows a ticket to be issued by "a peace officer or by a qualified employee."  The practice of using clerical staff to approve tickets is controversial, even in the
Industry, and until an amendment was to be outlawed by a 2010 bill in the State Senate.  (The 2012 "reform" bill, SB 1303, does not outlaw the use of clerical staff.  See the 2012 Legislation section on the Action/Legis page.)

In one city, some tickets were signed by an officer who was not even alive at the time!  In early 2011 WBAL-TV in Baltimore
revealed that 2000 tickets had been signed by an officer who had died in a car accident some months before.




FAQ # 37:   I was making a right turn, and the second photo, where I am in the tightest part of the turn, shows the same speed as I was in the first photo, when I was approaching the turn.  How can that be?

Answer:  RedFlex prints a speed figure on both photos, but the speed printed on the second photo is just a duplicate of the speed reading made by the pavement loops your car passed over at the place where the first photo was taken.  For some reason they have not programmed their equipment to leave the old speed reading off the second photo.

Also see FAQs # 15, 27 & 40.




Snake Oil

FAQ # 38:   Can cameras catch uninsured drivers? I have seen some articles (originating in Chicago) suggesting that.  What do you think?

Answer:  The red light robots obviously have the ability to take pictures of license plates, but no ability (yet!) to climb down from their poles and capture the suspect before he leaves the area!  To catch uninsureds, most cities are using automated number plate recognition equipment installed in a patrol car.  That way, when the "ANPR" system identifies an uninsured/unregistered/stolen car, the police in the car can pull the car over - or if it is parked, have it towed.  A stationary camera can't do that - it only mails out a letter asking the car owner to come to court - and an uninsured (or a car thief) simply won't show up!

Also see FAQ # 42.




FAQ # 39:  I'm from out-of-state.  Will this ticket show up on my license?

Answer:  Probably, unless you live in Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee or Wisconsin.  Here is an page about "reciprocal agreements" (or "interstate compacts") for the exchange of info between states.
Plus, the collection agency used by the court will send threatening letters to your home.



FAQ # 40:  I got three tickets in one week! What do I do?

Answer:  At least once a week I hear from someone who changed their commute route to a street having a camera, and committed multiple rolling right violations by the time the first ticket arrived in the mail.

Some judges will bargain multiple rolling rights down to just one fine, and our legislature has signaled the courts that they want a reduction in the penalty for rolling rights - see AB 909 in the 2010 Legislation section on the Action/Legis page.

To maximize the number of opportunities to get your tickets reduced down to just one, I suggest that before going to court, you should start by talking to the PD - escalating it all the way up to the chief if need be.  (Also see FAQ # 41, below.)  If that does not work, try a councilmember, or go and speak at a council meeting.  Then if that does not work, that would be the time to go to an arraignment and bargain with the judge there, as described above.  And if that does not work, go to a trial session and bargain there.  Also see the Alternatives box, in the Handling Your Ticket section of the Your Ticket page.

Also see FAQs # 4, 15, 27 & 37.



FAQ # 41:  I asked the police to dismiss my ticket, like you told me to.  When I phoned them, they told me they cannot dismiss tickets!

Answer:  The cop was untruthful about his inability to dismiss.  If he has the ability to bring the charges, he has the ability to get them withdrawn.  They do it all the time.  Yes, technically the cop is not the prosecutor, his role in the matter is just as a witness and as such he should have no authority to dismiss the ticket.  But in most traffic courts, the city prosecutor or DA is not present and the cop functions as both the witness, and the prosecutor.  So, he has the ability to ask the court to dismiss, "1385," and they do it, regularly.

Penal Code 1385:
(a) The judge or magistrate may, either of his or her own motion or upon the application of the prosecuting attorney,
and in furtherance of justice, order an action to be dismissed.


See also FAQ # 40, above.



FAQ # 42:  What about collision avoidance systems, like Marysville installed in late 2011?

Answer:  Collision avoidance systems aren't anything new. They've just never caught on, probably because most potential customers identify them as a sales gimmick. Collision avoidance equipment may possibly protect you from drivers running the light a fraction of a second late (who are little threat anyway), but only at intersections equipped with it.  Further, it can do nothing about the impaired or distracted drivers running the red multiple seconds late - and those are the ones who will hurt you.

Don't drop your guard when you're driving in Marysville.  Continue to drive, and walk, defensively.

Also see FAQ # 38, the Marysville Documents page, and Baloney from RedFlex, on the Industry PR page.



FAQ # 43:  How can I copy and save the photos from the camera company's website?

Answer:  Near the right end of the upper row of keys on your keyboard (assuming you have a PC, not a Mac) there is a key that says "Print Screen."  Pressing that key saves an image of your entire screen, into your paste buffer (temporary memory).  So all you have to do is go to the ticket company's website, get the photos on your screen (blown up as much as you wish), hit Print Screen, then open up your Paint or Photoshop program and paste (Control-V) the screen image as a new image in your Paint/Photoshop program.  There is a more detailed explanation in the box on this page.




Links/Ref/FAQ Page:
- 5 -
Letters / Editorials / News / Class Actions



A Note from a Local Citizen

Email received Mar. 18, 2003:
Great website! I have lived in Culver City for seven years and it's a mini police state. The density of photo-lights must be around ten times surrounding communities. Every major route into the city has one or more photo lights; why don't they just put up tollgates?
I think our traffic law enforcement by live officers is also 10x more intense than in Los Angeles. Citizen preferences for less or more law enforcement never come up in elections here, implicitly or explicitly, so basically not even the local electorate gets to choose our level of law enforcement, and clearly visitors from other municipalities face taxation without representation.
I got one [Culver City] photo ticket that showed me 0.1 second into the red, but when you really looked at the traffic light in the photo, the yellow was still on. I went to trial but the ticket was dismissed at the beginning of the session so I never got to argue my case. I suspect that questionable tickets are mailed out in hopes that the recipient won't recognize the deficiencies and will simply pay up. But surprisingly I triggered the camera at [a Culver City intersection] without ever receiving a ticket. In that instance traffic was fast and heavy and the light went yellow at the worst possible moment for me. I didn't dare stop behind the intersection for fear of being rear ended, so I ended up a considerable ways into the intersection. Without the camera I would have proceeded and cleared the intersection, but in this case I did not proceed in order to make it clear that I had never intended to run the light. The fact that the car behind me ended up straddling the crosswalk may have been persuasive to the person reviewing evidence, but that was pure luck. I had no way of knowing that the car behind me would actually have trouble stopping, just a hunch that he might.
I suspect automated traffic lights are only one symptom of more fundamental problems with Vehicle Code enforcement which are probably rooted in its potential to subsidize careers and generate revenue.
I think your suggestion that people avoid shopping in Culver City is right on target. It's only sensible to stay away from a town that basically balances its budget on the backs of unfortunate motorists, and there's an excellent chance things will change when the business establishment gets hit in the pocketbook
.
[ ] = Edit to protect identity of correspondent.


Added 10-3-03, updated 8-9-09, 7-24-11, 1-6-14:

Editorial
by
highwayrobbery.net

  Denial of Traffic School:
Is the Public Being Served?

On Jul. 1, 2011 a new law went into effect making "Second Offender" 12-hour traffic school unavailable for offenses occurring that date or later.

Even when "2TS" was freely available, One local judge almost never granted permission to attend it.  And during a trial session he said, just after granting "regular" 8-hour traffic school to a defendant who requested it immediately after the conclusion of the officer's testimony: "Pretty soon we're gonna stop doing this."  Evidently, he would like to make even regular traffic school harder to get.

Another court formerly sent out a notice* containing the following statement.


(Don't panic, it isn't true!)*

In 1976 the appellate court* told traffic judges that their "discretion to grant or deny a request for traffic violator school [does] not encompass a blanket refusal... to all defendants...."  So now, instead of telling defendants who have come in for a trial that their chances of being granted traffic school after the trial are zero, or that school is "not an option," some judges tell defendants that their chances are very, very low.  Some mean it, some don't!

When the court denies traffic school to defendants, is the public being served?

One argument goes that denial of traffic school reduces court congestion - knowing that they might lose their chance to go to traffic school, fewer defendants will take their ticket all the way to a trial.   But the reality is that the court is not even close to being congested; in the court in which I have observed the most, the entire trial session typically lasts just over an hour.  Most courts freely allow traffic school, and still get their work done.  An enlightened policy was expressed by one judge pro tem, who said:  "It (traffic school) won't be denied just because you asked for a trial - that would be discouraging your right to a trial."

There's also concern that bad drivers repeatedly attend traffic school just to keep points off their record.  Supposedly, the public will benefit from the court's denying traffic school to those defendants in that the eventual accumulation of points will cost those bad drivers their license and get them off the road.  Actually, license suspension is rare in California, one driver out of 500.  And many of those suspended continue to drive, only now without insurance.  Refusing to grant traffic school is particularly inappropriate with red light camera defendants.  Some of them have a point on their record, but a remarkable proportion have never before had a ticket; thus, as a group they are very unlikely to progress to license suspension.

One judge denies traffic school to many defendants because, he says, they "won't learn anything from it."  How does he know they won't learn anything?  The writer of this editorial believes himself to have an above-average understanding of driving and the laws, yet he has learned something each time he has been to traffic school.  But even supposing that a particular traffic school attendee has a closed mind and learns nothing else, he will certainly learn that if he runs a signal he will have to spend 8 hours in school.  For a wealthy driver,  the loss of those hours of freedom may be the only meaningful punishment he receives.

Just one point on one's record can cause cancellation of insurance, or a jump in rates.  To remain insured, a driver has to pay more.  For the non-wealthy majority, that extra insurance expense can take away from the funds available for maintenance of the brakes, tires or engine, exposing everyone to increased air pollution and threat of accidents.  And if the cost of insurance goes up so much that the driver can't afford it at all, one more uninsured driver is added to the streets.

To best serve the public, and the economy, judges should freely grant permission to attend traffic school.

****

For Judges...

"Let us remember that justice must be observed even to the lowest."
Cicero, Roman lawyer, politician, philosopher, 106 - 43 BC

"One way to measure the health of a society is to examine the quality of its justice -- to look at how it exercises its power over the least of its citizens."
Judge Tom Ross, Rehnquist Award Acceptance Speech, Sept. 13, 2000

****

*If you got a court notice saying "Traffic school is not an option after trial" or were told "No school after trial" by one of the phone attendants at the court or if the bailiff or the judge announced it to everyone in the courtroom, see  Challenges and the Long Beach Docs page.

For the official rules about traffic school, see Traffic School Law.



Class Action Suit in California

See this page.





Links/Ref/FAQ Page:
- 6 -
Info About Cameras in Other States

(Including Materials about California, Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington DC, Washington State, Canada )
Updated 5-21-11


Arizona Info


CameraFraud.wordpress.com is the most active anti-photo radar group in Arizona.


More info about Arizona camera tickets can be found in the Speeding Ticket section on this page (below) and in the Mesa section on the Camera Towns page (includes info about a Sept. 2008 lawsuit against the speed ticketing).


A special note about Arizona:  Stay out of Arizona!  Apparently the BIG money tourists spend at hotels, restaurants, shops, conventions, golf courses and gas stations is not enough to satisfy the State of Arizona.  On Feb. 20, 2009 the AAA auto club's national office designated Arizona as a "strict enforcement area" - the first time that the club has awarded that title to an entire state.  The warning will be provided to motorists getting maps or route advice from AAA for travel to or through Arizona.




Louisiana Info





Minnesota Info

In Dec. 2005 the Minnesota ACLU filed suit about the Minneapolis red light camera system.  In April 2007 the Minnesota Supreme Court found that the City's system was illegal.  There remains the question of refunds for motorists who paid the fines.  See this article.




Ohio Info

In 2008, Cincinnati residents gathered signatures on a referendum to stop the cameras.  See their website.




Texas Info

Some Texas cities are using an imaginary limit line for their photo enforcement, with the result that many innocent motorists are getting tickets.  Read about it in this article:  Texas Offenses Require Imagination.

NoCamerasHouston.com is the anti-camera website in Houston.

SaferBaytown.com/ is the anti-camera website in Baytown.

Port Lavaca Citizens Against Red Light Cameras is the anti-camera FaceBook page for Port Lavaca.




Washington State Info

BanCams.com is an anti-photo enforcement group in Washington State.  Their website includes, among other things, copies of the contracts between the cities and the camera companies.





Maryland:  Judge's Critique of Red Light Cameras

Judge Mathews' report should be mandatory reading for judges, mayors and police chiefs nationwide.

Here are excerpts from two articles about Judge Mathews and his report.

Judge Asks Baltimore to Rethink Cameras
By Jon Ward
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
January 30, 2003

     Baltimore's top District Court judge says he is suspicious over whether the city is using red light cameras merely to make the roads safer.
     "Sometimes city officials are more focused on revenue than they are on safety," District Court Administrative Judge Keith E. Mathews said in an interview with The Washington Times.
     Judge Mathews supervises the court that hears all traffic ticket cases in Baltimore. He said he wrote an 11-page  report questioning the city's red-light camera ticketing system because he was receiving too many complaints from motorists that the system was unfair and wrongly motivated. His comments, first reported by the Baltimore Sun, were circulated among the mayor's staff and the city Department of Transportation.

[Balance of 1008-word article is available on washingtontimes.com]


Baltimore Motorists Caught by Red Light Cameras
Baltimore City to Add 60 Additional Cameras
A May 2003 Report by WBAL-TV11
Baltimore City has red light cameras at 47 intersections -- that's more than any other jurisdiction in Maryland. WBAL-TV 11 NEWS I-Team reporter Mindy Basara reported that some motorists are questioning whether the cameras are used to prevent accidents, or whether they're for profit.
And red light cameras irritate Baltimore City traffic court Judge Keith Mathews, too.  Mathews said he has a problem with what's called the grace period -- the time from which the light turns red to when the camera fires. The grace period in Baltimore City is one-tenth of a second. So quick, Matthews said, it's catching people who don't intentionally run the light, Basara reported. "Other jurisdictions -- New York City [and] San Francisco -- have grace periods on the average of three-tenths of a second," Mathews said.

[This is an excerpt.  Balance of article above is available at:
http://www.thewbalchannel.com/travelgetaways/2189015/detail.html ]


In late 2008 a new anti-camera website was launched in Maryland.


Contributed by Max
Shop Mallard Fillmore at cafepress.com/mallard


More News from Maryland

According to this article, at an intersection where a 50-mph expressway ends, Baltimore has a camera with just a 3-second yellow.  It will be interesting to find out how many tickets that camera has been generating.
This article found by a reader of this website.
This is an excerpt.  The full article can be purchased at:
http://www.sunspot.net/search/bal-archive-1990.htmlstory.

City's red-light citation has couple seeing double
Pa. visitors sent 2 tickets from same photograph


By Stephen Kiehl
[Baltimore] Sun Staff
Originally published August 6, 2003

[Excerpt]

"Robert and Barbara Lippmann couldn't quite believe it when they got a ticket in the mail for running a red light in Baltimore. They didn't remember running any red light when they were in town for an Orioles-Phillies game in June.

"But when the Pennsylvania couple got another ticket in the mail for running the same red light on the same day - six minutes later - they knew something had gone terribly wrong: The photos on the two citations were the same.

"Baltimore's red-light camera program is run by a private vendor, Affiliated Computer Services Inc. [ACS], which also runs cameras in Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

"If the Lippmanns did run the light - albeit only once - they may have been tripped up by the short yellow time at President and Fayette streets. Drivers of vehicles coming down the Jones Falls Expressway onto President Street are given three seconds of yellow, according to the city.

"Federal standards suggest that roads with a 50-mph speed limit - the limit on the JFX - provide five seconds of yellow time."



News about the Washington DC System


Ramsey/Capitol collage - part of News 
section
Charles H. Ramsey, DC Police Chief (1998 - 2006), Camera, US Capitol

The following decade-old press release is here because the DC city council was the first government body to admit that the cameras were for revenue, not necessarily safety.

AAA News Release
10/2/02

THE DC BUDGET DESTROYS ANY AUTOMATED ENFORCEMENT CREDIBILITY

Statement by Lon Anderson
Director, Public and Government Relations
AAA Mid-Atlantic

It is outrageous that the DC government has approved a budget expanding the use of automated traffic enforcement—speed and red light cameras—for the sake of helping close its budget deficit.

AAA Mid-Atlantic supports traffic enforcement and the use of automated equipment when it is done for safety purposes and with appropriate policies in place to protect the rights of motorists. But when both the Mayor and Council advance automated enforcement for the purposes of revenue raising, they reduce DC to the level of the southern speed trap towns that are avoided by travelers and lampooned by comics. Welcome to the Dukes of Hazzard, DC version!

Automated traffic safety enforcement already has serious credibility issues nationally, but especially in DC where it has been egregiously abused—remember the 20,000 red light camera tickets issued from one camera in the middle of a block with a blinking yellow signal?

Police Chief Charles Ramsey has continued to insist that DC's automated enforcement systems are for safety, but now his bosses, the Council and Mayor, have spoken and have contradicted their Chief. They have admitted that these systems are being expanded for revenue raising. While safety was undoubtedly the Chief's intention, that clearly has been overridden by his superiors who want this program for its money making.

This is a sad day for the Chief, for city law enforcement, for the city government's credibility, but most especially for motorists, who now will have every good reason when they get a ticket to wonder if they were just the victims of the latest iteration of a new commuter tax.


Bethesda's Million Dollar Camera

On June 12, 2003, CBS Evening News aired a report about a Bethesda Maryland camera that earned $1 million in 14 months because it had a 3.0 second yellow while all other (non-camera) signals on the same street were set at 4.0.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/06/12/eveningnews/main558431.shtml




Political Persua$ion in Pennsylvania

Here are three of the Philadelphia Daily News pieces about ACS, its campaign contributions, and the competition to operate red light cameras in Philly and the State of Pennsylvania.

Part 1.  An excerpt is below.  Balance of Part 1 available for purchase at:  http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/news/local/6208078.htm

Posted on [phillynews.com on] Tue, Jul. 01, 2003

THE BIG PICTURE BEHIND RED-LIGHT CAMERAS



"AN OBSCURE legislative provision engineered by House Speaker John Perzel gives one of his campaign contributors a leg up on running the city's lucrative red-light traffic camera system."


Part 2 includes a chart showing who ACS' contributions went to.
Part 2 also discusses The National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running, which has positioned itself as an influential, "independent" authority on red light cameras but is actually industry-funded.  Available for purchase at:
http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/6208079.htm


Part 3  of the Daily News' series was this editorial:

Philadelphia Daily News
July 7, 2003
Section: EDITORIAL OPINION
Page: 13

CAMERA OBSCURA
RED-LIGHT CAMERA BILL NEEDS TO CHANGE TO CLEAR WAY FOR BIDDING

PHILADELPHIA'S RED-LIGHT camera program may be on its way to becoming America's funniest home video. Except technically, it won't be on video, but on 35mm film. And it's not so funny.

As detailed in a Don Russell story in last week's Daily News, the Harrisburg legislation that will enable Philadelphia to introduce a red-light camera program included a provision stipulating outdated technology. The bill requires the use of the kind of camera only a few companies still use, including ACS, a company that now has contracts with the Parking Authority and which has been a campaign contributor to bill author Rep. John Perzel, as well as to Gov. Rendell and Mayor Street.

Most of the 70 communities that have installed cameras at intersections to nab red-light runners use digital cameras, considered to be more technically advanced than 35 mm, or "wet film." Both have advantages: wet film has better resolution; digital cameras are initially more expensive to install, but in the longer run, they require much lower labor costs. Most vendors have switched to digital; ACS actually offers both.

But did Perzel carefully review these pluses and minuses before inserting the line in the bill requiring only wet-film cameras? No.

Did he have some specialized technical expertise that led him to make that choice? No. His office admits that he has no knowledge of the technology.

So do we believe him when he says that the ACS ties and campaign contributions had nothing to do with the bill's language?

Uh . . . No.

Following Harrisburg's lead, City Councilman Frank Rizzo also included the 35mm stipulation in his Philadelphia bill for the city's red-light program, but is now scrambling to amend the stipulation and just sent letters to Harrisburg lawmakers informing them. Except amending the city's bill won't do any good unless Harrisburg amends its original enabling legislation.

It should go without saying that competitive bidding helps keep everyone honest. But by narrowly restricting the field of companies, Perzel has restricted the possibility of getting the best deal for those public funds he's spending (although no one has any idea how much this pilot program will cost, which makes such controls more important.)

A spokesman in Perzel's office suggested that it stipulated wet film because it was familiar and satisfied with ACS's work for the Parking Authority, and, oh, another thing: the digital companies weren't considered because they weren't out there "telling their story." This is not only depressing - especially if you translate "telling their story" into "hiring expensive lobbyists" like ACS did - but insulting, given that its the bill's language that shuts out those companies from telling their stories, which might be far more compelling than ACS's.

Then again, they might not. But we may never know.

We should know, and we could, if Perzel amended his bill. Which we hope he does immediately so that pros and cons of both kinds of cameras, and vendors, can be fully investigated.

This page has supported red-light cameras but with some reluctance. Our concerns are only getting bigger. For example, we believe the red-light program belongs under police jurisdiction, not the Parking Authority. And that the flow of money, which is now Byzantine, should be streamlined so it goes from the Parking Authority to the city without a stop in Harrisburg.

We don't like what happens when money gets too close to that town. Talk about a speed trap.


Copyright (c) 2003 Philadelphia Daily News




Matt Labash portrait - part of 
News section
The Matt Labash Investigation, from The Weekly Standard

A very readable, and pretty comprehensive, critique of red light camera systems.  Labash starts with a discussion of the cameras near his base of operations - Washington DC - but don't be put off.  He ends up covering a wide geographic scope.
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/078ftoqz.asp




Sometimes the Press is Really, Really Sharp...



This illustration, by Sandra Hoover, accompanied an even more critical article published Nov. 25, 2004 by the Sacramento News and Review.  The article was worthy of a major daily paper, but didn't get re-printed by any of them.




...and Sometimes It Isn't



This illustration is the only critical part of an otherwise useless Jan. 6, 2005 New York Times article, written by their LA-based columnist who described paying her West Hollywood ticket and obtaining traffic school.  The fifth-grade level of the cartoon, and the superficial article, reminded me of Mad Magazine.






Links/Ref/FAQ Page:
- 7 -
Humor (Sort of...)


Policeman's Xmas tree - part 
of Humor section
A policeman's Christmas tree.



On May 28, 2004 I sent the DMV director a question.  Ninety-three days later (they kept misplacing the letter, so I had to send it three more times) they sent this reply, signed by the Department's chief counsel.  They didn't answer the question, but included this novel paragraph. 


(The excerpt above is published under the "fair use - commentary" exception to the copyright law.  The rest of the letter is in the Fake/Snitch Ticket section on the Your Ticket page.)



"A Monterey resident received a notice in the mail of a speed-radar camera* violation from the City of Campbell, near San Jose. The man responded by mailing back a picture of the cash equivalent of the demanded fine. Campbell's police department promptly dispatched a picture of handcuffs, and the subdued scofflaw mailed in a check."
From "Photo Cop" by Tom Lankard, in May/June 1999 "Westways" (Auto Club of So. Cal.)

*Note:  Speed cameras tickets (also known as photo radar tickets) have never been legal in California.  But in 2010 there was another (failed) attempt to legalize them - see the Legislation section on the Action page.

Campbell doesn't have speed cameras anymore, nor does the City of San Jose, which shut theirs down in March 2007, but in March 2007 a Los Angeles-area parks agency signed a contract to install them in some of the parks they manage - despite Vehicle Code Sec. 21455.6(c) which presently says:  "The authorization in Section 21455.5 to use automated enforcement systems does not authorize the use of photo radar for speed enforcement purposes by any jurisdiction."  For more info about those LA-area speed cameras, see the MRCA entry on the Camera Towns page.

Innocent-looking white 
mini van



Even though we got a *&@#!!  ticket, we think we've kept our twisted sense of humor.  So, for your entertainment, somewhere on this website there is a link to "The Humor Item du Jour."  It will change every few days, and so will its location.  Look around.




Fortune cookie say - part of 
Humor section





Why did the traffic light turn red?
If you had to change in front of all those people, you'd turn red too.
(Bob Phillips)

This traffic light should really be embarrassed !


(For more information about this photo, see Defect # 7.)



Jack Webb: "You're a cop, a flat-foot, a bull, a dick, John Law. You're the fuzz, the heat. You're poison, you're trouble, you're bad news."
(From Dragnet TV series) YouTube video Alternate link, audio only





      

                Good Robot                                                 Bad Robot





Links/Ref/FAQ Page:
- 8 -
Info About Speeding Tickets

( Including Info from Inside and Outside of California )


Please note that the materials below - except for Section III of JP's Fight Your Ticket - will not help you with a red light camera ticket.


"Lead Foots" Beware!

Almost every year our Sacramento legislators have tried to change the law to allow more speeding tickets to be issued.  In 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2009 they introduced bills to allow the automated issuance of speeding tickets (photo radar).  In 2010 the governor included speed cameras in his proposed budget.   All five of those attempts were defeated.  Despite those defeats, they are trying again in 2011.  See the
Legislation section on the Action page for more info.



A Recommendation

If you got a non-automated California speeding ticket and radar or laser was used, defend by using the
Speed Trap Law (Vehicle Code Secs. 40801 - 40805 and 40808).  Fight Your Ticket and Help I Got a Ticket (both above) tell you how.  Also see this detailed but informal discussion of speed surveys and the Speed Trap Law, published here on highwayrobbery.net .
Also, do a Discovery, and consider making a motion for Change of Venue (see the Challenges page) or requesting a Trial by Declaration.





www.PhotoRadarLaw.com
PhotoRadarLaw.com is an Arizona-based webpage for an affordable book (as low as $12.90 including shipping) on how to deal with photo radar tickets.  Even if you are in California, you should have a look, because our legislature keeps trying to bring photo radar here - see the Legislation section on my Action page, and the MRCA section on the Camera Towns page.
If you are in Arizona, be sure to see the Mesa section on the Camera Towns page (includes info about a Sept. 2008 lawsuit against the photo ticketing).


Orig. artist unk - bird added by highwayrobbery.net


A Letter to the Auto Club of Southern California

Please note that according to their staff, CSAA, the northern California club, does not have a similar ad campaign.  Mr. McKernan's phone number is (714) 885-1222.  Additional contact info for the Clubs is in the big purple box on the Action page.


August 11, 2005


Mr. Thomas V. McKernan, President and CEO
(Please copy to the Board of Directors and Honorary Directors)
Automobile Club of Southern California
Post Office Box 25001
Santa Ana, California 92799

Re: TV Ad - Obey the Speed Limit


Dear Mr. McKernan:

I am a Club member.  Recently, I have seen a TV ad in which you appear and ask viewers always to obey the speed limit.

Every study I have seen says that it is far safer if all cars are moving at similar speeds, regardless of whether they are obeying the speed limit.

The studies echo my own observations - cars moving substantially slower than "the flow" are just as disruptive as cars moving substantially faster.

Your ad, by encouraging some drivers to impede the flow, could make our highways more dangerous.

I would like to be constructive here, so would like to suggest an alternative, that the Club put its resources behind a Lane Courtesy campaign.  More Lane Courtesy would do a lot to decrease lane changing, tailgating, and Road Rage.


Very truly yours,


On Aug. 29 the Club replied to my letter:

"In this instance, the reference to "always obey the speed limit" is not intended to be an absolute - we wouldn't endorse holding 65 miles per hour in the left lane of a freeway with traffic backing up behind, or for that matter driving at the speed limit during severe weather - and I believe the viewers understand it that way."

While the Club's letter conceded nothing, I did notice that by the middle of August the "obey the limit" ad had been replaced by one advising motorists to buckle up.





JP's Fight Your Ticket
JP's Fight Your Ticket (not to be confused with David Brown's book - linked above - of the same name) is a California-based free-of-charge website with practical advice for dealing with tickets, including equipment violations.  Section III is about red light camera tickets.  If JP's drop-down navigation bar doesn't work with your software, the sections can be accessed by clicking on the next-page and previous-page arrows at the bottom of each page.
(JP's Fight Your Ticket is currently hosted on the highwayrobbery.net website, but the content and opinions presented there are solely JP's.)




Speed Trap Exchange
The Speed Trap Exchange is a nationwide list of speed traps - to which to you can add your favorites.




Links/Ref/FAQ Page:
- 9 -
Moving Violations Cited Under Local Ordinance or Municipal Code

(Speeding, Stop Signs, Lane Changes, Truck Route, Etc.)

New:   12-16-09, updated 5-17-11

At one time, some cities (and one county, and one park district) were citing minor moving violations under a local ordinance or muni code instead of under the California Vehicle Code.  (Some may still be doing it.)  The tickets carry no points, and with the exception of the $445 fine in Long Beach, carry a much lower fine than usual.

What is a city's incentive to issue tickets this way? A:  If the motorist pays the ticket without contesting it, the locality gets to keep the entire fine, rather than having to give up more than half to the Superior Court system.
Given the financial advantage, why don't all cities do this? A:  It is illegal, per Vehicle Code Sec. 21 which says:

Except as otherwise expressly provided, the provisions of this code are applicable and uniform throughout the State and in all counties and municipalities therein, and no local authority shall enact or enforce any ordinance on the matters covered by this code unless expressly authorized herein.

In Sep. 2010 Senate Bill 949 was passed, to stop this practice.  For more info about SB 949, see the Action page.  If you receive one of these moving violation tickets (speeding, lane change, stop sign, etc.) issued under a section of the local muni code rather than the State Vehicle Code, please contact me.

Here are the localities known to have issued these illegal tickets, and some of the ordinances they cite under:

Alameda County Sheriff:  10.36.020
Berkeley: 
Long Beach:  10.08.030
MRCA:  Stop sign camera tickets (see the MRCA section on the Camera Towns page)
Newman:  10.01.030, 10.01.040, 10.20.010, 10.20.020, 10.02.030, 10.03.010, 10.03.040, 10.03.050
Oakland:  10.16.110
Riverbank:  70.07, 70.08, 75.03, 76.01, 78.01, 78.02
Roseville:  11.06.030, 11.08.030, 11.08.040, 11.12.010, 11.16.090, 11.26.010, 11.28.010, 11.28.020
West Covina:  22-61, 22-143A






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