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WTF Wednesday: Las Cruces Wanted To Shut Off Utilities Of Those Not Paying Traffic Fines [POLL]

Yep, they did.

I’m not sure if it ever went through but, according to an article at,

To force drivers to pay tickets from automated red-light and speed cameras, Las Cruces, N.M., threatened in April 2012 to turn off gas, water, sewer, and trash services for those who don’t pay the $100 fines, which the city said total about $2 million. Reconnection fees of $48 will be added to the prices of the tickets.

I think there’s probably a significantly higher number of people who get their tickets “in person” that don’t pay. What about them? Is this limited to automatic cameras? Did it ever even pass?  (If anyone knows for sure let me know please!)

That’s not the only dumb thing the article mentions regarding automatic camera use and penalties.

In San Bernadino, the cameras bankrupted the city. San Bernadino shortened the time the lights stayed yellow in order to catch more people running the red light.  When this was exposed and they were forced to reset the yellow light timers, violations fell dramatically. Which meant the cameras no longer generated enough revenue to pay for themselves. The company operating the cameras wanted 1.9 million to let the city opt of their contract. So, the city:

added three more red-light cameras to try to make enough money to pay back ATS, even though by that time a San Bernardino county court had ruled that photo tickets were inadmissible hearsay. In August 2012 the city filed for bankruptcy, allowing it to finally end its contract with ATS.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Many times the money neccesary to operate the cameras isn’t available so they just sit there idle.  More often than most cities will admit, the cameras just malfunction.  (Like one in Baltimore that cited a guy for driving 38 mph in a 25 mph zone, though two photos issued with the citation showed the car was stopped and the brake lights were on. A video clip also showed the car was not moving when the speeding ticket was issued.)

On the bright side, there are ways to beat these tickets. You can show that it was a mistake obviously or you can exercise your right to “face your accuser”. (I doubt the camera will show up so that may get you off!)

Imply that the picture isn’t clear enough.  Or, maybe you can contact a “friend” at the Police Department.  That’s what was happening in Prescott Valley Arizona!  The PD there received a complaint stating:

that the police officers in charge of reviewing and issuing tickets from photo-ticketing machines had been dismissing tickets issued to other officers’ family members. An auditor from the photo-ticketing machine company was asked to get copies of violations by family members of officers and found that photo evidence was “being ‘rejected’ at the first review or later in the process within the police department, on incidents involving vehicles registered to police employees.

Or, you can stop at red lights and not speed.  Either way, there are clearly some problems with these cameras so, WTF??

Why don’t we do away with them?


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