The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com
Most major cities, suburbs, and some smaller jurisdictions in the United States have traffic cameras at their busier intersections. These cams operate 24/7 while recording all vehicles passing through their particular intersection. If a vehicle happens to run a red light or is clearly speeding, the violators receive a traffic ticket in the mail shortly afterward citing them for the recorded violation.
What most people do not realize is, traffic tickets issued via traffic cams are not issued by the local city police department, state police, or any other law enforcement agency, Federal or otherwise. All traffic tickets issued in connection to traffic cam violations are presented by mail from the privately owned company who contracted whatever city to have them installed and have nothing whatsoever to do with any law enforcement agency.
What this means is, any traffic ticket received by mail from these companies carries no legal clout from law enforcement or the court system. Thus, those cited have no legal obligation to pay it. No law enforcement agency will issue a warrant for non payment or even a court date in connection with the ticket, simply because it was not issued by any official police department. In most cases, the worst that will happen to anyone who does not pay a traffic cam ticket is the issuing company will eventually send the debt to a collection agency.
As with any form of law, there are always many things to consider. The top 3 traffic cam providers to cities nationwide are American Traffic Solutions, Inc., Redflex Traffic Systems, both out of Phoenix, Arizona, and Affiliated Computer Services based in Dallas, Texas.
With this revelation, we come to realize that traffic tickets issued by any private entity that isn’t connected with law enforcement, is not worth the paper they were printed on. Then we also have the fact of jurisdiction in play. It would be unlawful for a private entity to issue a traffic citation, based on the fact that in most cases, they are doing it from out of state. Since most red light traffic cam companies are based in Arizona, for example, they would have no lawful jurisdiction to issue tickets out of the state where they are based in. So the traffic citation issued to a driver in Georgia via an Arizona private company as an example, would be totally against State and Federal law.
What traffic cam fines amount to is a multi billion dollar a year scam, perpetrated on most citizens in the US. New York City alone collected almost 2 billion dollars associated with traffic cam fines and fees in 2016.
The use of traffic cams to issue citations has been ruled as unconstitutional since 2014, when Judge Michael Oester of Butler County Common Pleas Court in Ohio ruled that the Village of New Miami had to pay back some 3 million dollars in fines collected from traffic cam violations. The town had to reimburse some 45,000 people who were cited over a period of 15 months due to the ruling stemming from a class action law suit.
In addition to the obvious legal problems with such citations, another complication arises, involving the signature of the person being cited. In all situations where an officer of the law pulls someone over and issues them a ticket for whatever the violation was for, a signature from the person accused of the violation is usually needed. This insures that the accused acknowledges the issuance of the ticket, the violation, and the promise to either pay or appear in court on the stated date to dispute it. The law in some states has been changed recently where signatures are no longer required on traffic tickets and only required on citations having a definite mandatory court date such as criminal citations like DUI or reckless driving.
In most cases with traffic cam related citations, we are looking at one of the biggest civil scams perpetrated on the public in history. The actual citations themselves are an attempt to deceive the person they are issued to, in making it appear the ticket came from the city where the violation occurred.
In the example citation, the issuing private company makes it appear to have come from the City of Miami’s Intersection Safety Program. However, we see that the actual address is Tempe, Arizona, where the issuing company is. The citation even advises the violator not to pay the local traffic court or law enforcement agency, but to go to violationinfo.com for paying it.
The bottom line is, more citizens need to become aware of one of the biggest fraudulent schemes around, where a handful of private companies masquerading as law enforcement extort billions annually from millions of citizens across the country. This while local, county, and state law enforcement and civil entities sit idly by and share in the profits made from what amounts to nothing more than a state sponsored racketeering operation on their own citizens.