We have shared information on this criminal defense blog before about the newer technologies that the state has used to try to catch people committing traffic violations. Law enforcement depends on red light cameras and speeding cameras to ticket people for running a light or speeding.
That dependence, however, has been challenged by some, including Colorado defense attorneys. Advocates for suspects’ rights argue that tickets resulting from the cameras are not valid, unless they are issued in person. A person has the right to face their accuser. These types of arguments have not yet been effective in the state with regards to getting rid of the cameras. Other states, however, have moved to do away with the controversial law enforcement tools. The reason is more than just public outcry.
Cities in Arizona and California have reportedly been sued by the companies behind the traffic cameras. The businesses want money that they claim they are owed by the cities. They claim that they are owed more money for the traffic tickets issued due to their cameras. The companies were meant to get a portion of the revenue generated by the law enforcement tools and are unhappy with the small amounts they’ve received.
The problem between the targeted cities and the companies is that not even the cities running the traffic cameras got the amount of money through traffic tickets that they expected. People who were ticketed because of the cameras were not legally required to pay the fines because the photo ticketing strategy was deemed in violation of people’s rights. The lawsuits motivated the states to terminate their camera programs.
What started as an attempt to prevent traffic offenses and accidents has evolved into a contract law dispute. Perhaps city officials will take this outcome as a lesson to better think through law enforcement strategies in the future. It will be interesting to see how the future of the cameras unfolds here in Colorado. Hopefully, news of these disputes will not scare officials here to continue using the cameras.
theNewspaper.com: “Desperate Photo Enforcement Firms Sue Cities,” Aug. 5, 2011