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Illegal Threats With Red Light Camera Letters?


By Ted Twietmeyer


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 violation letter:

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 it.

Here are the individual issues point-by-point to illustrate what I'm saying:

  1. Letter claims you can fight it, but good luck. They have the photos which is all they need.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.)

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Since the city cannot tell WHO was driving, the bill for the violation automatically falls on the vehicle's owner.

  4. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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...

Ted Twietmeyer


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