Challenge to state’s traffic camera tickets brings heavyweight argument

By WND Staff

Those traffic ticket cameras, for red lights, speeding and such, are big moneymakers for governments.

And headaches for consumers.

But now there’s a challenge to the program in one state that charges it is being run in violation of the Constitution.

A report in the Virginia Star explains the fight is over the program in the city of Chesapeake for which a former Virginia delegate is seeking an injunction.

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Tim Anderson, a lawyer and former delegate for Hampton Roads District 83, says the crux of the problem is that the state treats ticket offenders in criminal court.

That means the 6th Amendment protections in the U.S. Constitution have to apply. And that means the right of a defendant to confront his accuser.

In traffic ticket cases in the state, the “accuser” is an out-of-state corporation whose officials never show up in court to be confronted.

A police department representative may show up, but under the programs there, which are not like all the others in other states, the police are not making the allegation of criminal actions.

The report said, “In Chesapeake, the city contracts with a third party for the operation and maintenance of the cameras and the generation of citations. Someone from the police department will testify in cases contesting speed camera tickets that the camera was working properly and accurately captured the speed of the defendant’s vehicle at the time of the incident.”

Anderson said, “The police department is not the agency that is calibrating the unit. It is actually the third party – a private, out-of-state business.”

Anderson charges that unless that third party is represented in court – to be confronted – the constitutional requirements are not being met.

“In Virginia, the law says that in a regular traffic case, you have the presumption of innocence, you have the right to remain silent, you have a right to a jury trial – all of the criminal protections that we get,” Anderson said. “That’s what the case is about. If the court finds that traffic tickets are entitled to full constitutional protections, then I think we have a real shot at getting this injunction.”

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