Terrell is the most recent Texas city to adopt red light cameras. I filed an open records request to learn more about this revenue generation scheme.
“we know you appreciate the true life and death realities associated with following the rules of the road. Since so many crashes occur as a result of running red lights… Not [following traffic laws] leaves the City no other option than to follow the traffic code’s enforcement provision, which can include a civil penalty of $75.00 to $150.00.”
Get that? Don’t you appreciate life? The City has “no other option” but to use these cameras. You would have killed somebody if we did not send you a ticket for $75.00 to $150.00. You are lucky we didn’t arrest you for attempted vehicular manslaughter!
Innocence is NOT a Defense
This new traffic law makes the RO (registered owner), not the actual driver, financially responsible for these red light fines. What if you weren’t driving the car? Just read this email from Redflex (the camera company) recapping a meeting with the city.
“A person will not be afforded the option to identify another individual as the driver at the time of the violation. The RO is responsible for the violation.”
A new low for criminal justice- Guilt by car ownership. There is a defense for funeral processions, stolen cars, ambulances, but not for ACTUAL INNOCENCE. If this is really about “public safety” and not revenue then why punish anyone other than the driver?
The documents repeatedly discuss how this is only a “civil penalty“. Drivers can not be arrested for these violations, or even for failing to pay these tickets. Rather, a collection agency will be sent to harass these drivers and ruin their credit.
Why not call these traffic tickets (Class C Misdemeanors)? That would actually give these driver’s rights to a jury trial. The State would have to prove them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. By making these “civil” penalties the State takes away your rights.
If you disagree with the fine you only have the right to an administrative hearing in front a judge (no jury). You only have to be found “liable” (instead of guilty) by a preponderance of the evidence (not BARD).
These “public safety” measures are a money grab by local government. Putting real police officers at these intersections would do a better job, but not raise as much money. Ergo, we have Robo-Cop Red Light Cameras.