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Monday, September 24, 2007

Virginia: Two More Courts Uphold Speeding Ticket Tax

2/24/07 -

Hanover Circuit Court and Virginia Beach General District Court uphold the speeding ticket tax in Virginia.

A circuit court and general district court judge this month issued rulings upholding Virginia's controversial "civil remedial fees" that add a $1050 mandatory tax, on top of an existing $2500 maximum penalty, for speeding offenses of 15 MPH over the limit in a 65 zone (fee details). The balance of court decisions on the issue now tilt in favor of the tax developed by traffic attorney and state Delegate Dave Albo (R-Springfield) as a method of generating $65 million in new government revenue.

Virginia Beach General District Judge Calvin Depew Jr on Tuesday upheld the $1050 remedial fee imposed on Jason Duckwitz, a motorist who had been convicted of "aggressive driving" in an incident that took place just three days after the new fees were implemented. The decision followed last week's ruling issued from the bench by Westmoreland Circuit Court Judge George Mason III. Mason overturned a Hanover District Court ruling that had found the fees in violation of the equal protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions because they applied only to Virginia residents.

Henrico County Circuit Court Judge L.A. Harris, Jr. in August defended the state's "civil remedial fees". Harris overturned the August 2 ruling of a general district court judge (view ruling) in the same county. A decision by a general district court judge in the city of Richmond that ruled the fees unconstitutional still stands. The Richmond Circuit Court is expected to rule on an appeal to the case soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Waukegan Illinois To Launch 1st Red Light Camera

WAUKEGAN - Waukegan will launch its first red-light camera in early October, city officials said.

The camera will be at Lewis and Sunset Avenues on Waukegan's northwest side. Motorists caught on camera driving though a red light will be mailed a photo of the violation and fined, city officials said. A dozen more intersections could be outfitted with cameras later, officials said.

Chicago, Bolingbrook, Bellwood and Rosemont already use red-light cameras. Applications are pending for the automated technology on 50 state-operated roads, the Illinois Department of Transportation said.

Waukegan officials said the cameras are intended to make driving safer, not fill village coffers. Motorists caught on camera running a red light will be fined $100 while drivers caught by police are fined $75, Waukegan Police Chief William Biang said. The fee increase will help pay for the cameras, Waukegan Police Sgt. Anthony Joseph said.

Chicago Tribune Staff Report

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ohio Supreme Court Hears Red-Light Camera Challenge

Columbus, Ohio- Whether those pesky traffic camera photos are even worth the paper they are printed on is now up to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The high court Tuesday heard arguments in an Akron case that is certain to affect Cleveland and every other community that in recent years has turned to the so-called red-light cameras to enforce road rules and raise revenue.

The case involves an Akron woman who received a photo citation and challenged whether the city had a right to issue her a speeding ticket as a civil offense even though the violation, by state law, is a criminal act.
In Mendenhall v. Akron, the court will answer whether Ohio's constitutional home-rule provision allows cities to assess a civil penalty for something deemed by state law to be a criminal act.

"The statute allows local ordinances that mirror the state laws; what it does not allow is a change in the type of law . . . moving it from a criminal to a civil offense," argued attorney Warren Mendenhall, who happens to be the husband of plaintiff Kelly Mendenhall.

Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton noted that Mendenhall seemed to suggest the plaintiff should have been dealt with more harshly as a criminal offender.

"I would prefer getting charged with the civil" penalty, Stratton said.

Mendenhall suggested that the city's camera program is illegal and because no officer was present, his wife shouldn't have been ticketed at all - criminally or civilly.

Mendenhall notes that the home-rule provision prohibits cities from making local rules that conflict with the state's general laws.

Stephen Fallis, assistant law director for the city of Akron, said nothing in state law prevents local governments from establishing a law to work in concert with a state statute.

"It is still against the law to speed in the city of Akron," Fallis said. "It is still against the law to run a red light in Columbus and Cleveland and Toledo and Dayton and Springfield" - other cities with camera programs.

"We are complementing criminal law," Fallis said.

He argued that because photo traffic enforcement is relatively new and not in the state law, home rule allows cities to choose what penalties to apply.

Pursuing the cases civilly allows cities to make money by assessing fines and drivers to avoid points on their records.

Drivers across the state have grown irate with the automated traffic cameras, often stunned they had been caught weeks earlier. State lawmakers have tried to curb the effectiveness of the cameras. Cities contend the cameras improve safety.

Mendenhall had sued the city in local court, but the city and the company operating its cameras moved the case to federal court.

But before proceeding further, a federal judge asked the Ohio Supreme Court to first determine whether the camera program is legal.

By Plain Dealer Reporter Reginald Fields, 7/19/07


Sunday, September 2, 2007

E-ticketing will result in quicker police stops

Getting a traffic ticket in Indiana will soon become a little less of a hassle, at least as far as police are concerned. A new e-ticket system, which will be available later this year to law enforcement agencies statewide, promises to save time and money, cut the number of errors and free court employees from having to type information into computers.

It will, officials said, move citation writing from a sometimes barely legible handwritten affair into the computer age. Called electronic Citation and Warning System, or eCWS, the system will allow police officers to scan a driver's license and registration using laptop computers in their patrol cars. The driver's name, address, license number and other information are transferred to a ticket form. Motorists will still receive paper citations, but they will be printouts produced on the spot.

Once implemented, the system will allow police to get real-time information about drivers' records, including whether they had been stopped earlier the same day by another officer and issued a warning. The system represents the biggest change in traffic tickets since the early 1900s, said Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard.

At a news conference at the Statehouse Rotunda, Shepard held up a 1919 speeding ticket from South Bend. The ticket was handwritten, and a line was scratched out and new information written in. Shepard noted tickets haven't changed much since then. Traffic tickets represent almost half of the documents that launch court proceedings in the state, he said.

Writing tickets by hand has worked, "but not well enough," he said.
"Platoons of people" at various locations have to re-enter the information, which sometimes is hard to read, Shepard said. Indiana State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell pointed out it takes about 15 minutes for an officer to write a ticket. With the electronic system, that time will be cut to five to seven minutes. That can add up quickly, as troopers issue about 750,000 warnings and tickets a year, he said.
Whitesell also said the system could help keep troopers safer by reducing the amount of time they spend outside their patrol vehicles. He noted four troopers were injured within the span of a couple of days recently when they were struck by cars after stopping vehicles along the roadway.

"You always want to keep your eyes up" when you're on the road, Boone County Sheriff's Deputy Sean Kutz said. The new system helps him do just that. The system is being tested by Kutz and four other officers, including one with the Fishers Police Department. A hand-held version is being prepared for motorcycle officers.

The cost of testing and implementing the system: $2.4 million. Funding came from several federal agencies, including the Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Homeland Security. About two dozen states are putting similar systems into place.

Story from, Rob Schneider.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Traffic Tickets Rise As City Income Falls

A Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis working paper concludes that municipalities use traffic tickets as a means of supplanting falling local revenue. Economist Thomas A. Garrett and University of Arkansas at Little Rock Professor Gary A. Wagner explain that although there is ample anecdotal evidence to show that this is the case, no empirical studies have ever examined the question in detail.

Using county-level data from North Carolina between 1989 and 2003, the working paper analysis takes into account demographic factors such as population and traffic growth that could influence the number of tickets written for offenses such as speeding, failure to yield and following too closely. Some counties issued as many as one ticket for every resident, while the average was closer to one ticket for every ten residents.

Garrett and Wagner found that for each one-percent drop in local government revenue there followed a .38 percent increase in the number of tickets written, each worth between $5 and $250. When local revenue increased, however, there was no corresponding decrease in the number of citations issued.

"The fact that local governments increase traffic tickets during periods of revenue decreases but do not decrease traffic tickets in response to revenue increases reveals some degree of revenue maximization on the part of local governments," the authors concluded.

Source: - Are Traffic Tickets Countercyclical? (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 8/30/2006)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Georgia Teen Mistakenly Jailed For Unpaid Traffic Ticket

A high school athlete was imprisoned Monday in Atlanta, Georgia after being wrongfully accused of not paying a minor traffic ticket. U.S. Customs agents apprehended Stephen Kelsey, 17, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after the youth had returned from a long international flight he took to play soccer in Europe. Kelsey pleaded with and Atlanta police to verify that he had paid the the $175 ticket for slowing, but not completely stopping, at a stop sign. Police, instead, slapped him in handcuffs and hauled him away in front of teammates and his family. He was then tossed in the Fulton County Jail cell with thirty hardened criminals.

"I was actually thirty seconds away from having to strip down with the other inmates," Kelsey told WSB-TV in an interview.

The teen's mother, Marlene Kelsey, scrambled to marshal evidence that the fine had been paid. She found it, but the jail insisted that the police department that had issued the arrest warrant, Sandy Springs Police, agree to the release. When Marlene Kelsey attempted to call the Sandy Springs police, they were no longer answering the phone for the evening.

Stephen Kelsey spent eight hours behind bars and was released around 4am Tuesday. Sandy Springs officials apologized for the incident.

Source: Teen Jailed Over Ticket He Had Already Paid (WSB-TV (GA), 8/2/2007)

If you have a traffic ticket or speeding ticket in Georgia, get legal help from a Georgia Traffic Attorney.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Traffic Ticket Woes for Maverick Carter - CEO Of LeBron James Company

It seemed like an odd place for the regional managing partner of a major law firm, Squire Sanders & Dempsey, to be practicing. Amid the untucked T-shirts and denim shorts of a couple of dozen drivers resigned to plead "no contest" to their traffic offenses, Nance stood out in a natty suit and polka dot tie.

His client was Maverick Carter, 25, right-hand man of Cavs superstar LeBron James and CEO of James' LRMR Innovative Marketing & Branding. Carter was charged with driving 94 mph on a stretch of I-71 where the speed limit is 60. He already has 18 traffic convictions since 1998 and currently has eight points on his license. The potential four points from the Middleburg Heights ticket could result in a suspended license.

Enter "Fred the Fixer," who worked out a deal before court began in which Carter would attend a remedial driving course, knocking some points off his offense.

Carter wore a surgical mask during the hearing because he recently was released from a hospital after being treated for strep throat. Magistrate Kevin M. Preston got chuckles when Carter approached and explained the mask. "You can step back," he said.

He signed off on the driving course and Nance and Carter were on their way. Major civic crisis or misdemeanor traffic offense, "Fred the Fixer" still had his mojo.

"If a CEO of any of our major clients has to go to traffic court and wants me there, you'll see me in traffic court again," said Nance. "There are clients and there are clients."

If you need help with a speeding or traffic ticket in Ohio visit Ohio Traffic Ticket Attorneys

From article in The Cleveland Plain Dealer 8/2/07 - Michael McIntyre, reporter

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Outsourced Traffic Tickets In Orange County?


2:37 p.m. July 31, 2007

SANTA ANA – The Orange County Superior court will stop processing traffic tickets in Nogales, Mexico, following a public outcry over the practice.

Court officials on Monday amended the contract with the company that handles the tickets, Cal Coast Data Entry. Beginning Friday, Cal Coast will process all of the court's tickets at its Cerritos and Phoenix locations, court spokeswoman Carole Levitsky said in a statement.

The controversy erupted last week, when KFI radio's “John & Ken Show” attacked the outsourcing and urged listeners to complain. Hundreds called and e-mailed the court and county supervisors.

“We took this very seriously. We're concerned with the public's confidence,” said Chelle Uecker, the court's assistant chief executive officer.

The court has contracted with the Cerritos-based Cal Coast since March 2006. Information from tickets – including driver's license numbers, car license numbers, birth dates and addresses – has been scanned at the Cerritos facility and sent electronically to the Nogales branch.

The court has said the information was sent by electronic encryption and that the company has state-of-the-art security.

Uecker said that Cal Coast, which gets $752,000 a year for processing about 500,000 traffic tickets, was cooperative in amending the contract.

From - the Union Tribune.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Study Finds Out Of State Drivers More Likely To Get Tickets

A study released earlier this year by researchers at George Mason University finds evidence that out-of-state drivers are more likely to receive speeding tickets than local drivers. Economics Professor Thomas Stratmann and PhD candidate Michael Makowsky examined every traffic stop in the state of Massachusetts over a two month period in 2001 to identify the demographic criteria most likely to result in an expensive citation as opposed to a simple warning. Makowsky came up with the idea for the study after receiving a ticket in the Bay State.

"I was pulled over amongst a throng of other speeding cars, and stopped to think how I was different from the other drivers," Makowsky said. "The first thing I thought of was my Virginia license plate."

The data showed that, overall, any motorist who is stopped had a 46 percent of receiving a ticket with an average cost of $122. The chance of being ticketed jumped an additional 51 percent for those holding an out-of-state license. They also received larger fines. Hispanics were least likely to catch a break while young females enjoyed the greatest chance of getting off with just a warning.

The study found that the decisions by officers on the side of the road on whether to issue a citation were not made in a vacuum. The data showed a direct correlation between per capita police budgets and the amount of traffic fines collected. More tickets brought a bigger budget, and when the budget increased police salaries increased in a direct proportion. The researchers explained how the budgetary incentives of local politicians reached the level of the officer on the street.

"A police officer is generally disinclined to issue a ticket because it requires work without immediate personal benefit," the report stated. "The chief, however, is monitoring her work, evaluating her with regards to the number of traffic stops and issued fines, and how many drivers eventually pay their fines (as opposed to having the fine successfully overturned in court)... The amount of work effort associated with a citation issuance depends on the probability that a driver will appeal the ticket to a judge.... Whether a driver appeals a ticket depends on the expected cost and benefit. The expected cost includes the time and effort of going to court, which is a function of the distance from the driver's home to the assigned district courthouse."

Political representatives face pressure to keep taxes low while increasing the amount of revenue collected to improve city services. For this reason, the ideal source of this revenue turns out to be the non-voter -- a motorist from out-of-state or a different town. This effect was found to be limited only in the towns that depend on tourism revenue. In all cases, the police chief ensures compliance with the political needs by promoting and giving raises to the officers that best achieve the political goals.

"Police officers will find their incentives in alignment with revenue maximizing politicians if more traffic fines lead to a larger police budget," the report stated. "Police officers benefit from a larger budget through higher salaries and amenities."

The George Mason University findings match those of a Federal Reserve study that found the number of traffic tickets rises as city incomes fall.

Source - - George Mason University Study

Monday, July 16, 2007

Traffic Cameras Go Live in Chattanooga

If you live in, or are planning on traveling through Chattanooga Tennessee, be forewarned that you can now be caught on camera and filmed if you go through a red light or speed. Also known as "photo enforcement" there will be no more warnings for drivers so proceed carefully through Chattanooga. Read the story from WDEF-news.