War On Driving

Guest Post: DiBlasio’s War Against the Motorist in NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to make New York’s roads a bit safer for pedestrians. Excellent. Nothing wrong that. But his vision zero approach which includes lots more of those intrusive revenue generating red light cameras that spy on drivers as they pass intersections…ah, no. That does not make us happy at all. In the state of New York, red light traffic tickets are akin to parking tickets, so regardless of who committed the crime, the citation is sent to the registered owner of the car. Not the best way to crack down on reckless drivers exactly.

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[Above - Mayor Bill Diblasio caught jaywalking while on his cell]

 Although camera tickets do not come along with the hefty fine and points associated with an officer served ticket, they can still be quite expensive, affect insurance rates, and incur surcharges, so they are certainly worth fighting for.  A New York City traffic ticket lawyer can help put together one of the following defenses:

1. Challenge the camera

There are instances when the pictures are unclear, causing the ticketing agency to obtain wrong license plate numbers. So, you can evade the fine by proving that the vehicle in the photo is not yours, or the light was not red, or claim that the photo does not imply that the traffic light was operating properly.

2. Argue that you were justified or were trying to avoid harm

Since the case will be presented in front of a judge, you will be able to provide evidence to support your action, though this will require you to admit to the offense. Considering the large number of red light violations, you may be able to provide evidence that justifies your particular offense. For instance, a reckless driver may have forced you to drive in a lane controlled by a red-signal (1116-(d)).

3. Provide evidence that the violation was a situational mistake (mistake of fact)

There are instances when a judge will toss out your ticket if you can prove that there was inadequate response time. For instance, your visibility may be obstructed by a large vehicle, giving you inadequate notice to stop at the red light signal. Basically, there are many things that could obscure your line of vision, allowing you to justify the violation.

4. Make the constitutional argument

You can claim that the use of monitoring equipment is a violation of your due process right, since it exerts burden of proof on you – the accused. The Sixth Amendment right to confrontation allows you to confront your accuser – the witness who maintains the system and records associated with the camera. If no witness shows up, the case can be dismissed.

[Zev Goldstein - The Law Office of Zev Goldstein PLLC | 845-371-8457]

Redflex, ATS Front Group Props up “Political Tool” with Fake Twitter Following

The key to getting people hooked on bad habits for life is to start them young. Just ask tobacco and alcohol companies, who notoriously catered their ads to minors for decades.

It serves as no surprise then, that a failing industry like photo ticketing would be looking to youthful advocates in an attempt to indoctrinate impressionable go-getters and score a new face for their scam. It looks like a woman named Jordan Hibbs, of ASU, has been snatched up by an American Traffic Solutions/Redflex front group. As it turns out, she may just be the perfect person to assume their spokes person roll. Jordan admits, she’s not afraid to “fake it” as long as it elevates her status in the process. Her Twitter numbers even fooled press agents at the White House, who twice invited her to live tweet during the State of the Union address this year. More on the fallout from this deception is covered below.

Scamera Company Propaganda is a Shadowy Game

This dark side of propaganda certainly has not escaped red light camera and photo radar companies. In fact, their astroturf front groups like Red Means Stop fill their coffers with hefty donations from the two profit-driven camera vendors, Redflex and American Traffic Solutions. The organization will then advocate for “safe roads,” but conveniently ignore best practices to achieve that goal, like longer yellow light times. They  instead claim the only solution is to put up cameras. It’s more than a cozy relationship, it’s dishonest and damaging to the safety goals they claim to advocate.

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[Pictured above - Sen John McCain with lobbyist group, Red Means Stop]

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Caught Red-Handed: For Redflex, Bribery is Standard Operating Procedure

For a calendar year, revelations about Redflex’s shady and illegal business practices have been fed to the public through a steady diet of damning admissions. Journalist David Kidwell of the Chicago Tribune has written about the subject comprehensively. [link to archives]

During the period since the first blockbuster article by Kidwell in March of 2013, Redflex has been hemorrhaging contracts and money, but curiously not in Arizona, which houses the Australian-based camera vendor’s U.S. headquarters.

Paradise Valley, AZ could not have turned a more blind eye to the corruption as they not only renewed with Redflex in 2013 for a whopping 5 years, but agreed to double the size of their contract and hardly even considered using a different vendor, such as American Traffic Solutions (ATS), who also operates nearby in Scottsdale.

Phoenix, AZ also renewed their contract with Redflex without even putting the issue up for public debate, which they later admitted was improper (code language for “illegal”).

Now that Redflex and their designated scapegoat, Aaron Rosenberg, have exchanged lawsuits it’s starting to become clearer that bribery wasn’t just an issue in Chicago, but “Standard Operating Procedure” for the camera vendor.

The former EVP, Rosenberg has not taken too kindly to the remaining brass at Redflex blaming all their transgressions on him and him alone. He’s firing back, not by proclaiming his innocence, but by presenting evidence that he was just a cog in Redflex’s bribery machine.

It’s getting ugly, real ugly.

With just a few pages released by Rosenberg’s attorneys, we now have black and white evidence that shows illegal campaign contributions and gifts being used to sway politicians and party officials in Florida and Arizona. More info will be released from Rosenberg’s side, but probably not until summer of 2014. [Lawsuit]

Here’s what we know so far:

Arizona - Illegal campaign contributions to both the Arizona Democrat and Republican Parties by Mr. Rosenberg that was reimbursed by Redflex and signed off on by then-CEO Karen Finley.

Florida - Two dozen state legislators and their wives were invited to an expensive dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse, which was paid for by the company and not reported. Internal emails and expense reports show the dinner cost over $3,200.00.

And this is just the beginning. Rosenberg is alleging bribery was all part of the standard ops in 13 states.

The latest from the Chicago Tribune foreshadows what’s to come:

In his counterclaim against Redflex, Rosenberg said he was simply “carrying out orders” and that other company executives also participated in a “pattern and practice” of wooing potential clients with perquisites including meals, golf outings, professional football and baseball games — all covered under a liberal company policy for “entertainment” expenses.

"A budget for these items was approved, and there was never a distinction between these types of entertainments and expenses that are considered gratuities and bribes," Rosenberg alleged in the filing.

Rosenberg said that during his tenure Redflex “bestowed gifts and bribes on company officials in dozens of municipalities within, but not limited to the following states: California, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia.”

Arizona and Florida seem to be a main focus of Rosenberg and his attorneys and for good reason. Arizona is the hub, where the executives are housed and will almost certainly be where most of the bodies are buried. After all, Redflex “won” the competition with ATS for the statewide freeway photo radar contract from 2008-2010 and it certainly took more than just a convincing slide show to woo Janet Napolitano and the state legislature, who looked the other way while she jammed this massive program into a byline on the state’s budget.

Of course, Arizona Legislators in 2008 were way too ethical to accept bribes, right? Well actually, they would beg to differ with that - [Fiesta Bowl bribery scandal]

Top 10 Red Light Camera and Photo Radar Scam Stories of 2013

2014 is here!

Alas, another year has gone by where drivers in 33 states were having their wallets drained by flashing boxes in intersections and creepy vans parked along the side of the road.

2013 also marked the largest and most widespread scandals the industry has ever been exposed for and it only promises to get worse for Redflex, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), Affiliated Computer Services (ACS - Xerox) and others in the new year.

In light of that good news, we bring you:

TOP 10 TRENDING SCAMERA STORIES OF 2013

10. License Plate Scanners Being Used in Red Light Cameras to track every driver

Although this little nugget of info has been known for years, the ACLU uncovered the widespread use of license plate scanners which were set to data mine every driver passing by, regardless of any suspicion that they were violating the law. In a year where blanket surveillance came under major fire, this was more ammo for motorists’ rights advocates to heavily criticize the dubious nature of red light cameras. Read more - [link]

9. Judge in Ohio Orders Refunds, Camera Seizures

A Cincinnati area Judge really put the hammer down hard on red light cameras in a nearby village. He ruled Elmwood Place and Optotraffic in contempt of court for continuing to issue photo tickets for months after he initially ruled them illegal.

Refunds were also ruled by Judge Ruelman and the cameras were to be seized. [read more]

8. $4.2 Million in Camera Ticket Refunds for New Jersey Drivers

American Traffic Solutions (ATS) were caught up in yet another multimillion dollar lawsuit, this time in the Garden State, where drivers were awarded over $4 Million in refunds. Why? So glad you asked. It’s because they were issuing red light camera tickets in 18 municipalities where they were actually illegal. Minor detail, of course. Read more - [link]

7. Michigan Kills Red Light Cameras Before They Go Up

We are proud to say that this website actually sounded the alarm in Michigan when a camera shill of a legislator was trying to sneak through a Red Light Camera bill back in May. Michigan Campaign for Liberty’s Tony DeMott lead the rally cry to successfully defeat the cameras before a single one could be installed. Thanks Tony!

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6.  Protestor Arrested in Florida

Wayne Schmidter, a man who has had to defend himself from violations of his free speech in the past, was handing out flyers at an intersection with Red Light Cameras in Apopka, FL. An overzealous police officer demanded to see both his permit to hand out flyers and his ID, neither of which are required under any law in that jurisdiction. Schmidter answered he did not have either, nor did he need them and was then arrested. Amazingly, the Judge who heard Schmidter’s previous civil rights suit was eating at an establishment near by and ran out to tell the officer he’d better back down! Read more - [link]

5. Multiple States Move to Ban Photo Ticketing

State Legislatures in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio all advanced bills in their 2013 sessions to make red light cameras and photo radar completely illegal. Citizen backlash against the unconstitutional camera systems has demanded legislators file these bills - in some cases under major duress! Expect these states as well as others to take the issue up again in 2014. After all, the Cameras Are Coming Down!

4. Redflex Faces Massive Financial Troubles

Fallout from the bribery scandal in Chicago (don’t worry, that one’s coming too) crushed any expectations of staying above water that Redflex may have had. Shortly after it was announced that they were losing their contract in Chicago, Redflex put out a press release that detailed their grim fortunes to come - [link]

Later on in the year, the camera vendor announced that their profit had dropped a whopping 50 percent! Look out below! [read more]

3. Missouri Court System Condemns Red Light Cameras

Missouri courts spend the last 4 months of 2013 absolutely obliterating the state’s red light camera scheme. In September, they deemed that it violated due process. In November, the 2nd highest Court in Missouri ruled that red light camera programs are unenforceable and thus void. Later that month, the MO Appeals Court agreed and upheld that ruling. And in December, the MO Appeals Court ruled that red light cameras are unconstitutional!

2014 should be the end of red light cameras in Missouri and the court system, not legislature, will be the ones to thank for that.

2. Florida Caught Up in Yellow Light Time Shortening Scandal

And they say Journalism is dead in this country. One News Affiliate in Tampa Florida proved that it’s still alive in 2013 when they blew the doors wide open on a $50 Million dollar yellow light shortening scheme being carried out by American Traffic Solutions and several municipalities. They estimate that $50M figure is what’s been stolen by ATS by lowering yellow light duration to illegal and very dangerously short durations.

Thanks to WTSP (Tampa) for doing this great public service and the fallout continues to be felt across the state [read more]

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1. Chicago-Redflex Bribery Scandal

And now the Granddaddy of them all and the scandal which rocked the entire mafia of photo ticketing, the Chicago Bribery Scandal. To prop up their $80M per year photo ticketing racket, a few palms need to be greased, right? Chicago is no stranger to this form of corruption, but the city never seen a scandal with bribery that tallied as much money as Redflex was dishing out, under the table.

[read more] from Chicago Tribune’s David Kidwell

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In true Chicago style, the contract with Redflex, which was announced to be dead and gone in 2013, by Mayor Emanuel, has been quietly extended to January of 2014. When the Redflex cameras are finally shut off, and they will be, that company will plunge into multimillion dollar deficits from which it will be nearly impossible to dig out of. 2013 brought more citizen, lawmaker and court backlash against red light cameras and photo radar than ever before. It will only continue to grow and crescendo in 2014!

Happy New Year and keep motoring!