It just doesn't seem to end. Now governments
are engaging in using a out-of-state company to threaten unfortunate
victims of red light cameras.
Below is the outline of a screwed-up,
crammed corner in Rochester, NY where a red light camera was located.
Traffic at this corner is normally quite heavy. Note the weird angles
of these three streets. Rochester is a very old city, and these
streets probably date back to horse and buggy days when 5MPH was
considered fast. As the reader can see, it is extremely easy to look
at the wrong traffic light at this intersection - or be distracted by
other traffic lights:
City intersection from the horse and buggy days
Below is scanned copy of a threatening
letter sent to a driver (personal information removed.) Driver had
accidentally passed through a red light and was caught by a automated
red-light camera. This letter was sent to the vehicle owner after the
initial red-light citation went unpaid for 30 days.
More information below this red-light
I am not a lawyer, and if you want to bang heads with your local municipality
about red light cameras or other issues you'll need one. But after speaking
to the city of Rochester, NY red light camera department there appears
to be several threats in the above letter which are outright wrong or
illegal. Quoted statements shown in the following sections were obtained
during a lengthy phone conversation with the City of Rochester's red
light camera department. Statements made by personnel in that department
appear to be violating due process - and they are getting away with
Here are the individual issues
point-by-point to illustrate what I'm saying:
Letter claims you can fight it,
but good luck. They have the photos which is all they need.
Statement lists “Red light
camera notices of liability.” Liability is usually a civil issue.
It does not state this is a motor vehicle offense or crime.
In the above letter the vehicle
owner is threatened with vehicle registration and/or license
suspension and other actions. Yet the city red light department told
me on the phone, “A red-light violation will never appear on your
license.” It looks like a kangaroo court declaration.
This judgment letter (which came
after the initial notification letter about the violation) was sent
via normal US mail to the vehicle owner, not by certified mail.
I asked how the camera images were
handled. I was told, “A company in Arizona processes the camera
images and forwards these to the Rochester police department.
Several City of Rochester police officers look over the images to
confirm they are valid before notifying the vehicle owner.”
(Clearly they assume the vehicle OWNER was the driver with no
evidence to back it up.)
How can a Arizona civilian who is
not law enforcement, legally cite someone for a red-light violation
in New York state? According to the city red light office, this
“legal violation” is never put on a vehicle owner's license.
What isn't wrong with this? For example, imagine if you could get a
speeding ticket which never appears on your license, but you
“admitted guilt without a trial” simply by paying the fine. Is
there any difference? Yes with a red light ticket you don't even
get the option of having a real trial.
City told me, “Camera images
cannot show or tell who the driver was.” This is also true -
initial photographs sent to the vehicle's owner only show the
license plate, not the driver.
Since the city cannot tell WHO was
driving, the bill for the violation automatically falls on the
This fake judgment letter states
they will send the bill to a collection agency. If they cannot
collect on the bill the fine is put on the car owner's credit
record, but not his or her license. There is no due process to
determine WHO was driving. Implications for you? This means if you
loan your vehicle to another driver, and they get this “citation”
while driving without telling you, THEIR VIOLATION BECOMES YOUR
LIABILITY! The actual driver who borrowed your vehicle will NOT
receive any letters about their violation. All threatening letters
from the city go straight to you as the vehicle's owner. Know the
person well you are loaning your vehicle to it can get expensive
before you know it. If someone goes on a joyride sailing through red
light cameras, they can quickly rack up hundreds of dollars in fines
in a matter of minutes that YOU must pay.
What if the other driver who
borrowed your vehicle refuses to pay the fines you tell them about?
Again, it will become your problem - city proceedings “assume”
the owner must be the driver. This fine will eventually damage YOUR
credit record if you don't pay it for the joyrider but not on
the joyrider's credit record. All because you own the vehicle.
City of Rochester red light camera
department told me this on 12/10/15: “In Arizona where the camera
image processing company is located, people routinely contest these
tickets all the time and they are always dismissed.” I asked her,
“Can anyone with a red light camera ticket in Rochester do that?”
Her answer was, “No, not here. Just in Arizona.”
So there you have it. A laundry list of
problems caused by cameras mounted on poles...