[Chat] Not guilty on red light camera violation!

Emil Volcheck volcheck at acm.org
Tue Oct 5 12:37:41 EDT 2004


I took a half-day off today to go to court and contest a Red Light
Camera citation.  I won!

Since my last name put me at the end of the docket, I heard about 20
trials this morning.  Here are a few observations:

1) Frequently, the judge got a lame excuse from the defendant.  He
would find the defendant guilty but usually reduced the fine.  I think
$75 to $25 was common.  With court costs, that made it about $50, for
a net savings of $25.

2) The judge would consider rainy conditions.  The judge found one
defendant not guilty immediately (no explanation from the defendant
needed) "due to inclement conditions, based on the photograph".

3) A representative from the contractor ACS attended for all the
red light trials.  The judge would ask him to explain what the
photographs showed, then give the defendant the opportunity to
ask any questions.

4) The excuse that a big vehicle was behind you and that made you
afraid to stop didn't seem to work very well.

In my case, I got a citation because I stopped on the crosswalk.  I
didn't enter the intersection, but it's still technically a violation.
I was ready to argue that I didn't have enough amber time (3.4
seconds) because it was rainy and I didn't have enough time to brake
as hard as I needed.  I had also prepared calculations that showed the
Red Light Camera was way off when it calculated my speed.

I spoke to the ACS rep, and he confirmed that the Red Light Camera
computes speed based on time at the first photograph and time at the
second photograph.  In my case, I went less than 6 feet in 1.34
seconds.  However, the camera said I was going 20 MPH.  If that were
true, I would have gone 40 feet.  This is important, because if the
speed indicated by the Camera is higher than the posted speed limit,
the judge will likely find you guilty if you say you didn't have
enough time to stop.  So, if ACS equipment exaggerates speed, that
leads to more convictions.  The ACS rep said he would make no comment
on my calculations and that if I thought there was a problem, that I
should report it to the Bureau of Transportation.  I offered him a
copy of my calculations and expected he would take it (and probably do
nothing), and I was a little disappointed by his response.  The ACS
company probably gets complaints all the time though.


Emil Volcheck
volcheck at acm.org

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