On June 28, 2013 Judge Robert Ruehlman ordered traffic cameras in the town of Elmwood Place, OH to be confiscated and impounded, and the money collected by the traffic program returned to its owners.
Meanwhile, here in Michigan, House Bills 4762 and 4763 seek to legalize traffic cameras in Michigan. Proponents argue they make safer driving conditions in the monitored areas while opponents say they are strictly revenue generation mechanisms. Either way, they are an assault on privacy as the cameras document exactly when a person was at a specific location.
Back in March, Ruehlman ordered the traffic cameras down, ruling that they were an invalid method of traffic enforcement for multiple reasons:
- The driver is not warned that it is an enforcement zone. There were no signs or other methods of informing drivers they were entering the monitored area.
- The vehicle owner is sent the citation, and if he wants to contest it, must pay a $25 administrative fee for the hearing. If the State is issuing a citation, the accused has a right to a hearing, and the $25 is an additional barrier designed to deter this and create a ‘shut up and pay the ticket’ approach to revenue generation.
- The ‘witness’ in this case is a computer generated report with the photos obtained, speed readouts listed, and license plate images. There is no chance for the accused to question the witness.
- The witness in the case is Optotraffic, the maker of the speed camera system. Optotraffic receives 40% of the citation revenue, already amounting to $500,000. Therefore, the witness in this case is financially involved in the ruling of any hearing.
- If a vehicle owner claims he was not the driver at the time, he must testify against the actual driver by providing their name and address of the driver. This forces the vehicle owner to incriminate someone else to absolve themselves of their guilt. In typical legal fashion, a person accused of an infraction merely has to prove they are not guilty, with the onus of finding the guilty party left to the police.
It turns out when Ruehlman made his initial ruling, the town left the cameras up, but opted to use them in other ways. This goes directly against the judge’s ruling of turning them off. The city used the cameras to collect speed and traffic data, but insist they did not collect license numbers. With the current Orwellian voracity of government’s data collection appetite, how can we be sure they didn’t capture license information? Because we have their word?
The phone number of Optotraffic appears on the citation these Ohio drivers received. Many people called that number to pay their tickets, despite Ruehlman’s ruling that the citations were invalid.
With the current Orwellian voracity of government’s data collection appetite, how can we be sure they didn’t capture license information? Because we have their word?
Chagrinned the city disobeyed his orders, Judge Ruehlman ordered the cameras impounded, stored, and held as collateral until Optotraffic paid back the money collected by the cameras. He has also allowed a class action lawsuit by those affected by the revenue generation to seek compensation.
The Michigan versions of these revenue generation bills were co-sponsored by Michigan Representatives:
- Wayne Schmidt -R, district 104, ph 5173731766, WayneSchmidt@house.mi.gov,
- Fred Durhal -D, district 005, ph 5173730844, FredDurhal@house.mi.gov
- Thomas Stallworth -D, district 007, ph 5173732276, ThomasStallworth@house.mi.gov
- Brian Banks -D, district 001, ph 5173730154, BrianBanks@house.mi.gov
- Michael McCready -R, district 040, ph 5173738670, MikeMcCready@house.mi.gov
- Woodrow Stanley -D, district 034, ph 5173738808, WoodrowStanley@house.mi.gov
- Henry Yanez -D, district 025, 5173732275, HenryYanez@house.mi.gov
- Scott Dianda -D, district 110, 5173730850, ScottDianda@house.mi.gov
Given the current state of our government’s intrusion into our lives, do Michigan citizens really need further monitoring of our lives for any little morsel of information or cash government can extract? It’s time to not only vote NO on bills like these, but send a clear message to those representatives without the wisdom to realize further intrusion bills are not welcomed.
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