Red light cameras subject of recent ticketing fraud charges

New Yorkers may have heard about recent ticketing fraud charges involving a police officer and a photo ticketing vendor. Both were recently held accountable for illegal activities related to photo enforcement.

The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics revealed that a settlement was reached with Redflex Traffic Systems, a red light camera vendor. The company is based in Australia and was not complying with a state campaign finance law.

Corporate Lobbying Disclosures

The law requires any corporation that expects to spend more than $5000 lobbying public officials to file a disclosure report semi-annually. The goal is to keep track of corporations attempting to influence politicians.

Redflex ignored several warning notices and did not file the report. They were fined and forced to admit liability as part of the settlement. They were also required to submit the report.

New York City use of Cameras for Law Enforcement

Red light cameras are digital cameras installed above a traffic signal or along portions of a road. They are programmed to snap a photo when a car exceeds the speed limit or violates a traffic law. Using license plate information obtained from the photograph, a ticket is then mailed to the owner of the car.

Current state law no longer permits fines to be imposed for the cameras. After the cameras were installed in New York City, the state legislature overturned the laws allowing fines. As a result, new ways to use the cameras are being considered.

One recent suggestion by the governor was to use the photos from the cameras to shame the individuals caught. A wall displaying the names and photos of violators was suggested, similar to walls for DWI offenders in some police departments throughout the country.

A majority of states approve of the use of the cameras. However, some controversy still exists.

Advocates of Camera Usage

Advocates say they are an important and efficient safety tool used to prevent unsafe driving. Critics say they are simply an easy way for municipalities to make money off of their citizens. These conflicting viewpoints have caused a number of states to ban the use of red light cameras.

Studies indicate the cameras are effective in reducing certain types of accidents such as broadside collisions. However, there is also data suggesting they may increase rear end accidents.

This comes from the "kangaroo effect", which occurs when a driver slams on their breaks when spotting the camera, causing the driver behind to slam into them. This is why it is important for drivers to make sure they are following the traffic laws, especially when it comes to speeding.

Traffic ticket penalties can be costly. An attorney experienced in traffic violations can provide valuable guidance and assist with crafting a suitable defense.