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Crime Transportation Technology

Baltimore Issued Speed Camera Ticket To Motionless Car 286

SternisheFan sends this story from the Baltimore Sun: "The Baltimore City speed camera ticket alleged that the four-door Mazda wagon was going 38 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone — and that owner Daniel Doty owed $40 for the infraction. But the Mazda wasn't speeding. It wasn't even moving. The two photos printed on the citation as evidence of speeding show the car was idling at a red light with its brake lights illuminated. A three-second video clip also offered as evidence shows the car motionless, as traffic flows by on a cross street. Since the articles' publication, several lawmakers have called for changes to the state law that governs the way the city and other jurisdictions operate speed camera programs. Gov. Martin O'Malley said Tuesday that state law bars contractors from being paid based on the number of citations issued or paid —an approach used by Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County and elsewhere. 'The law says you're not supposed to charge by volume. I don't think we should charge by volume,' O'Malley said. "If any county is, they need to change their program.'"
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Baltimore Issued Speed Camera Ticket To Motionless Car

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  • Crooked cop (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @04:42PM (#42292561) Journal

    The cop who signed off on this ticket is obviously not doing his job. This should at least be fraud, if not something more serious. Of course, there's no chance of the thug with a badge getting any sort of charges laid against him. There is no justice in the US.

  • by reasterling ( 1942300 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @04:43PM (#42292589) Homepage
    Speding fines are nothing more than a tax. If we realy cared about the safety of drivers on the road then speeding violations should be delt with using some kind of points system that will eventualy suspend your licence for a while. Instead we have a tax that encintivises harrassments of good citicens by cops. I have seen in many areas where city limits are extended for miles outside of any reasonable resemblence of a city just so the city can garner extra funds from speeding tickets. The use of financial punishment for these sorts of violations only leads to a more controling and harrassing atmosphere from those who reciave the funds (ie our local governments).
  • Re:Not legal here. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @04:57PM (#42292921) Journal
    The problem is that whether red light or speeding cameras improve safety is unclear. What we need are tailgating cameras. When people stop tailgating [wikipedia.org] ("driving on a road too close to the vehicle in front, at a distance which does not guarantee that stopping to avoid collision is possible"), they will stop colliding with others who slam on their brakes. This will dramatically improve the safety of other traffic enforcement cameras and justify their existence.
  • Re:Crooked cop (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:04PM (#42293089)


    Signing off on the ticket matches the definition of perjury [wikipedia.org]. The officer willfully and falsely certified that the driver violated an ordinance (speeding over the limit), one which had a financial penalty to the driver (possibly above and beyond the $40, given insurance and other unknown factors). If I recall correctly, the statements for signing off on tickets for revenue enhancement cameras include statements that signing is under penalty of perjury.

    The only out would possibly be mens rea, the intention. If the cop did so accidentially, then it could be incompetence (and not malice). Since the job was explicitly to examine these photos, then you're into malpractice territory. Doesn't speak well to the cop, nor to the program. If this is one case of a major foul-up, how many more were there, ones paid off false due to fifty dollars being less cost than missing a day of work to dispute it.

    Note: IANAL. Also, obviously, I am strongly against the police acting as The Sherrif Of Nottingham, levying fines and taxes for their own benefit. Revenue cameras tend towards injustice; especially so when they change conditions like shortening the time of yellow lights to increase said revenue.

  • Re:double fine (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:08PM (#42293193)

    My mother was driving through baltimore a few years back. A couple weeks later a red light camera ticket came in the mail. My parents paid it, only to have it show up again in their mailbox. At first they were really mad that the city screwed up and sent multiple tickets, even though the first payment went through....then they realized the timestamp was about 10 minutes later than the first. Yep, my mother accidentally ran the same stoplight twice in a row because she was lost...

    Just when I was thinking these cameras were a bad idea, you had to post that. Running a light once, because you're lost is inexcusable.

    My mom totaled her car that way. She's still driving and doesn't hold herself responsible. After all, she was just lost. It's not like she was drunk. Those people should go to jail. grrrr

  • My idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rk ( 6314 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:23PM (#42293563) Journal

    I have an idea for making traffic safety laws about traffic safety and not revenue generation:

    Pass a law that says all proceeds from moving violation citations go into a statewide fund. Then every 12 months, the funds are distributed evenly to every licensed driver in the state who has a 36 month clean driving record. Good drivers get rewarded by bad drivers, who pay into the fund with their tickets, and municipalities can't turn traffic laws into a cash cow with bullshit like speed traps, red-light cameras with short yellow lights, and other shenanigans.

  • Re:Not legal here. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:28PM (#42293703)

    As a pedestrian I try to always understand that in a battle of "Who can pay less attention to where they are going" the pedestrian will always lose.
    So I do not play that game. I assume the drive does not see me till I know he does.
    When I ride a motorcycle I do the same.
    Pedestrians that step onto a road hoping that cars see them and stop need to fail at this before they pass on their defective genes to offspring.

  • Re:Crooked cop (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:33PM (#42293807)

    If you are supposed to look for the infraction and do not it is lazy.
    If you attest to a court that you did when you in fact did not you are perjuring yourself.

  • Re:My idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:43PM (#42294053)
    I find your ideas intriguing and would like to vote you into office.
  • Re:Not legal here. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:43PM (#42294055) Homepage Journal

    Well let's see, TFA is about speed cameras, so that can't be it.....I know! PURPLE MONKEYS!!!

  • Re:Not legal here. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @05:53PM (#42294273)

    "In my own area, a Judge has ruled they are not legal."

    If "they" means red light cameras, they probably should not be legal.

    I did a bit of internet research last year, and found out that of the U.S. cities that surveyed the results of their red-light-camera use, many of them (a majority) found that they actually increased both the number and average severity of collisions.

    How is that possible? Some of the reasons are complex, but others are simple. For example: instead of just cruising through an iffy judgment call when the light is about to change, motorists now (fearing a traffic ticket that can be $100 + in some places) slam on their brakes, and get rear-ended by the inattentive driver behind them.

    Others cities have been caught deliberately shortening the duration of their yellow lights to create more ticket revenue.

  • Re:Not legal here. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jxander ( 2605655 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @06:02PM (#42294465)
    Which side does more violating than the other is entirely moot. Pedestrian is going to lose either way.
  • Re:Not legal here. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @06:44PM (#42295351)
    It shouldn't have gotten to that point because the machine shouldn't have triggered on that, and the contractor should have caught the error, but besides all that, there is a lot more than 'human error' involved, it's human indifference, and most likely intentional.

    Remember, "The department has said that a single officer can review up to 1,200 citations in a given day.". So if you have an awesomely diligent cop reviewing these things, who's working on it non-stop for a full 80 hours, that means he's devoting about 24 SECONDS to each one. So loading the data, reviewing the pictures and the video, making a decision, and clicking on whatever buttons and possibly filling out supplementary information required of him (whatever that may or may not be) all in 24 seconds. Yeah, the donut eating coffee swiller is just rubber stamping them. Hell, he probably doesn't even notice what color the car is, nor does he care.

    This system isn't designed to improve safety or help anyone, it only does one thing, and that's to make money for the local government and the contractor.
  • Re:Not legal here. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanadianRealist ( 1258974 ) on Friday December 14, 2012 @07:28PM (#42296217)

    I'd agree that fair is not the right word to be using here. "To be brutally honest" would probably be better (and more correct) than "To be fair".

    As a pedestrian I'm amazed at how stupid many drivers are. As a driver I'm amazed at how stupid many pedestrians are.

    Whether walking (or biking ) I treat it like a game where the drivers are actively trying to kill me and won't be punished if they do. That is definitely not true, and wouldn't be fair if it was, but thinking that way is a great survival tactic.

    As a driver I've many times let someone "steal" my right of way since that seemed preferable to being in an accident, even if it would have been the other driver's fault.

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