Tickets to Salvation
By Alex Distefano
When San Bernardino filed for bankruptcy last August, residents and city officials might not have been able to foresee an unintended consequence: Goodbye, red-light traffic tickets, $500-$600 fines—and court processing fees. What happened?
Turns out, the company that ran San Bernardino’s red-light cameras, Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions (ATS), had all of its 12 camera removed from the city, The Press-Enterprise reported recently. According to San Bernardino Police Lt. Paul Williams and City Attorney James Penman, the city stopped making payments once bankruptcy proceedings were finalized, but the cameras were not all removed until Dec. 7.
But there’s more to this than just San Bernardino finally joining the throngs of other IE cities that no longer utilize red-light cameras. If you are a motorist who was “caught on tape,” there might be happy ending in store, according to the editor of www.highwayrobbery.net.
“These red-light cameras are problematic in all the cities they exist and operate in,” the editor tells the Weekly. “But my main purpose of running the website, is to educate people on their rights, and inform them on these tickets.”
One piece of information he would like to share is this: If you received a ticket as a result of a red-light camera in San Bernardino last year, you may be able to (legally) ignore it . . . and face no consequences.
“I believe that, if I am not mistaken, all tickets within the city will be dismissed eventually,” highwayrobbery.net’s editor says. “That might even include the ones that have not been paid yet. But see, perhaps 50 to 60 percent of all people that get these tickets respond and either pay or contest them, the rest ignore them, and I see no legitimate reason the courts would force anyone to pay these.”
“I am seeing signs of the counties reacting to having their budget[s] cuts,” he says. “This is good. They are getting rid of the minor stuff and focusing on the more serious stuff. People should not be discouraged from fighting their ticket, even [if] judges [are] becoming extremely hardnosed and knocking down legitimate cases of people appealing their tickets. But the bottom line is that they keep cutting the funds of the courts, and I hope this makes them dismiss most if not all of these tickets.”
According to public documents (available on highwayrobbery.net), San Bernardino’s red-light ticket revenue between June 2011 and January 2012 totaled between $16, 000 and 18,000 dollars. Then it spiked between February and March 2012. By April, May and on, it went back to the average of roughly $18,000.
Exactly what was the reason for the spike, city officials were not available to be reached for comment? Plus, it is still unclear about the city’s plans to dismiss these tickets from the now-defunct red light cameras.
There are other issues, highwayrobbery.net’s editor says: “snitch tickets.”
Such tickets are, in essence, fake tickets mailed out “to bluff registered owners into disclosing the identity of the person who was driving their car or, to confirm that they [the registered owner] were the driver.”
“There are tons more examples of how these tickets appear, and key words to look for to find out if you have received one of these phony tickets,” the editor says. “Also, of the list of cities I have compiled that are confirmed to send these ‘snitch tickets’ out, Riverside is one of them.”
Such tickets can be found far and wide across the Golden State.
“Data from Oakland shows that in 2009 ‘snitch tickets’ [were] 42 percent of what they sent out. Data from Riverside shows that in 2011 ‘snitch tickets’ were 47 percent of what they sent out,” according to the website.
But as far as San Bernardino’s red-light tickets are concerned, the jury is ultimately still out.
“But a good question now to people in San Bernardino is whether or not these tickets will show up on the DMV record or now,” the editor says. “Counties have the option of sending delinquent tickets to the DMV, but now I wonder if San Bernardino will in this case?”