COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. -- Last month, the Colorado Springs Police Department started sending tickets to drivers who ran red lights at intersections monitored by cameras.
There are four intersections that have the cameras, and safety officials say they're among the city's most dangerous.
"We want to reduce accidents at these intersections," CSPD Sgt. Steve Noblitt said. "We've had a lot of side-impact crashes at these intersections, there's a large number of violations at these intersections, and our goal is to ultimately reduce traffic crashes and violations at these intersections."
During the 30-day trial period, they issued more than 1,400 warnings. In the first week of actual enforcement, they've sent out about 300 notices by mail.
"When you get the notice, you can either pay the $75 fine - no points - or choose to go to court and contest the summons," Noblitt said. "With the summons will come still photos, as well as your speed and how long the light was yellow and how long it was red."
There will also be a web link and password so motorists can watch a 12-second clip of the alleged violation.
Police officers review the video before they send out violations.
"They review all the violations that the vendor sends us, and based upon our business rules - these are actually rules that were established in the contract with the vendor - it's violations that we as a police department will either accept or not accept," CSPD Sgt. Andrew James said. "For example, if it's not a clear visual shot of the person driving the vehicle, we know we do not want to see that violation. However, if it does get sent to us, my officer still has the discretion to look at the violation and say, 'you know, I'm not comfortable with that one,' so there's checks and balances between the vendor's site and the CSPD."
Police said they've gotten a lot of questions from motorists, especially concerning turning right on red light.
"You can turn right on red at most intersections in Colorado Springs unless there's a sign indicates you can't," Noblitt said. "But remember, you have to stop first, either behind the stop bar or the crosswalk before you turn right on red, you can't roll through it."
He also said you won't be cited if you're in the intersection waiting to turn when the light turns red.
"They're in the intersection, they're fine," Noblitt said. "What we're looking for is people that approach the intersection while the light is red and then go through it, so if you approach when it's green or yellow, and you get to the intersection when it's green or yellow, you're not what we're looking for."
It costs the city around $5,200 per month per intersection to keep the cameras in operation. Authorities said it's a huge cost savings over stationing squad cars there. They also say it's never been a revenue-driven program.
"It's really motivated to reduce the crashes there. If there's 1,400 violations in a 30-day period, I think that speaks for itself," Noblitt said. "We aren't making these up, they are happening, and we're confident this will change the way people drive in Colorado Springs, which is a good thing."
Published by ColoradoConnection.com
From an article that originally appeared in The Huffington Post
, red light cameras are being exposed in LA for the scam that they are. Steve Parker
, a regular columnist for that online publication has seen the numbers and they just don't add up.
Not surprisingly, accidents are not going down. Somewhat surprising is that the city is losing money on the program.
This scandal came to light several months ago, when that LAPD report showing no improvement in accident rates at many of the intersections was released to the public. Several local news reporters, print and electronic, went over the internal audit and found it appeared that not only were accident rates not declining at these intersections, but both the city and the public seemed to be paying for a service which was providing no benefit for them.
How can a city in a budget crunch as bad as LA run a program that is costing them money and time with no benefit to the public? It seems that the scamera vendors are really making out like the bandits they are.
Anaheim voters have decided that they don't want cameras installed at city intersections to monitor for drivers who run red lights.
Nearly 73% of voters Tuesday approved Measure K, which amends the Anaheim City Charter to prevent the City Council from authorizing any red-light cameras or other automated traffic enforcement systems.
The move comes amid growing debate about the cost and effectiveness of the cameras, which are used in dozens of California cities.
The Anaheim City Council does not want to install them. But backers of the measure said they feared future councils might be tempted to do so to generate extra revenue for the city.
"Anaheim's voters recognized that red-light cameras are not a proven deterrent to traffic violations or traffic accidents, and I happen to agree with that assessment," Mayor Curt Pringle said in a statement Wednesday. "Other cities have chosen to use red-light cameras as a revenue-producing tool, but the City Council disagreed so we took the vote to the people, and they have spoken."
Red-light violations accounted for nearly 40% of the 2,397 accidents at Anaheim intersections from 2007 to 2009, according to police figures. In all, there were 12,858 traffic accidents during that period.
-- Alexandra Zavis
Photo credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press
TicketKick.com is a web-based service that professionally helps California drivers obtain dismissals on their traffic tickets through a legal process in California known as "Trial By Written Declaration", or trial through the mail. We guarantee our service, so if we don't win the case, we can offer a refund. Sounds good, right? Many of our customers though it sounded too good to be true. We had good call volume, and adequate web traffic, but we couldn't close many of our customers because they had their guard up for a scam. To top it off, we had a competitor with a very similar name that had given the industry a bad rep. Our advertising expense was eating up way too much of our budget, so we had to figure out away to close a higher percentage of our skeptical customers.
We began to look at our problem from the eyes of a consumer. If we were speculative of a company, what would increase our confidence and push us past the purchase threshold? These four items seemed to become paramount in the ongoing struggle for customer confidence.
1) Let the customer control the conversation: As experts in the industry, we had vast amounts of information regarding the customer's scenario. At first, we would control the conversation, and bombard the customer with information we thought that they wanted to hear. Later down the road, we began to realize that only a few things needed to be said, the rest can be brought out in the form of an answer to a question asked by the customer.
2) Speak with confidence: This sounds relatively straightforward, but is actually a lot harder than it sounds. When I hear my sales reps use such powerful words as 'like' and 'um', I cringe. We speak so loosely in casual environments that we can forget how to converse in the business world. I instructed my sales team to slow down a little bit, and concentrate on the delivery of their words. Our close rate increased because of this change.
3) Avoid overused marketing strategies: "Buy now and we'll throw in a second Widget, for Free!" Everyone had heard it a million times, and we all know it's the same old marketing ploy. In our business model, we avoided using promotions and discounts in lieu of building the value of our service up. Believe it or not, people would rather pay more for value than pay less for garbage.
4) Allocate 1-on-1 customer support: We wanted our customers to really bond with their sales agents from the beginning. Our service can be a complicated process, and customers became reassured that they were in good hands knowing they weren't going to be transferred from department to department.
-Greg Muender, President of TicketKick
In response to Young Entrepreneur
So, you were stopped by a cop...you got your citation. You are not sure what to do.
Should you fight your traffic ticket or not? Absolutely! You should always fight your traffic ticket!
When you receive a traffic ticket, the court will usually suggest that you must appear twice to contest it: first to appear and plead not guilty and second to stand trial with the officer present. This is not true. You can contest your ticket by mail without making a single court appearance. Contesting your citation through the mail gives you a better chance of winning your case than at a court trial. Even if you seem to be guilty of violating the law, the procedural hassles for the prosecution will often lead to a dismissal. If the prosecution does not submit its version of events in writing to the court by the deadline date, your case will be dismissed regardless of your guilt or innocence. Dismissals due to lack of prosecution are won in approximately 30% of written defenses.
You may say: "...but I think I was wrong, I think I deserve the ticket. Why should I fight my traffic ticket?"
You may lose cases, despite your innocence, due to cop and judge errors, including lies and incompetence. Also, you may win cases where obviously you broke the law, due to cop and judge errors. In the end, these errors balance out, leaving you with some rough approximation of justice. This approximate justice only happens if you mechanically and habitually exercise your legal right to contest every case. There is no other way to overcome the built in prosecutorial bias of traffic enforcers and traffic courts in USA.
Let's say that half of the citations you're issued are totally fair and legitimate and the other half are bogus and based on overzealous policing. Let's also approximate that you have a 50/50 chance of beating any particular ticket you contest. If you pay the tickets that you feel were deserved without a fight while only contesting the tickets that you thought were unfair you would be convicted in 100% of the cases where you surrendered and 50% of the ones you contested. By not contesting every case, you become a victim of the court's prosecutorial bias. However, if you contested every case, you'd beat 2 out of 4 tickets total. It should not matter if you beat two tickets when you were guilty, especially if you are found guilty on two tickets that were unfair. This is what I mean by the term "rough justice" or "approximate justice." This is why I recommend every citation be contested. You might need to beat a fair ticket now to balance the unfair ticket a cop may issue on a whim in the future.
I recommend that you always contest every charge, whether you're technically "guilty" or not. You have to remember that guilt or innocence is a result of the process of law as interpreted subjectively by people, including the cop who stopped you and the judge deciding the case. In traffic infraction cases, you are denied a trial by jury. As such, the biases of the cop and the judge and their potential for error and unfairness become magnified. They are not perfect and the process is not perfect. You run a greater risk that they might find you guilty, even if you are not. This is why I contest every case.
The law allows you to contest any traffic infraction entirely by mail. You can appear via mail through a Written Not Guilty Plea . In your plea you can request a Trial by Written Declaration. In this way you can contest your citation without appearing at all and, for reasons already discussed, will have a better chance of winning than at trial. Further, if you lose your trial by declaration, you have 20 days to request a Trial de Novo (new trial) (depending on jurisdiction). You then can appear in court for the first time for your second chance of winning.
Why doesn't the court inform every defendant of their legal right to appear in court via mail (Written Not Guilty Plea), contest via mail (Trial by Written Declaration), and have a new trial (Trial de Novo) if they are not happy with the outcome of the first trial? Money. Most courtesy notices hardly mention or do not mention these rights at all.
If they even mention the possibility of contesting a citation, they also mention that this generally requires two court appearances, one to plead not guilty, a second for the actual trial. If you do appear in person to plead not guilty, most courts will make you enter your plea last, inconveniencing you to the maximum. Then it will ask you to return to court for a trial. The two days' pay lost through these two separate appearances amounts to more than the traffic fine for most people. This is why less than 1% of cited motorist ever bother to contest their citation. Ignorant of their legal rights, confused and intimidated by the courts and police, 99% of Americans ticketed simply pay up!
Written by Alicia Angulo
San Diego based "TicketKick" shows drivers how to fight their red light camera tickets and win.
San Diego, CA October 28th, 2010: Thousands of drivers across the state are stuck with the hefty fines and insurance hikes associated with Red Light Camera Tickets everyday. Most drivers will simply pay the fine, believing that the photographs are enough to convict them, and that they do not stand a chance at fighting and winning. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. A large number of intersections and cities that issue the tickets have problems with the cameras or illegal clauses in the contracts that leave the courts with no choice but to dismiss red light camera cases that are contested. Moreover, recent published case precedent has held that much of the evidence used in a red light camera case is inadmissible. Despite this, most drivers don't know where to begin, and become overwhelmed with the research and work involved in fighting a ticket.
A San Diego based company known as TicketKick (www.ticketkick.com) helps California drivers fight their own tickets and win with unprecedented results. TicketKick identifies the problems, technicalities, and relevant case precedent for each red light camera case, and uses that information to develop defenses and documents that the customer submits to the court. TicketKick states that about three-quarters of their customers get their red light cases dismissed, without even having to go to court.
Greg Muender, founder and President of TicketKick, says the key to his company lies within the Trial By Written Declaration. "For one reason or another, the majority of drivers don't realize that you do not have to go into court to fight a traffic ticket," Greg says. The trial by written declaration is a legal process in California where drivers submit written testimony, and then a judge reviews the case. Mr. Muender says that the tricky part is knowing exactly what to write. "Most judges can be convinced that the citation should be dismissed, we just have to come up with a rock-solid defense for them to review."
Perhaps due to California's budget deficit, the state seems to be issuing tickets at an alarming rate and increasing the fines associated with them. An average red light ticket fine in California can be over $500. (Source: HighwayRobbery.net) To add insult to injury, insurance companies can raise rates by as much as $1,000 per year because of the point associated with a ticket.
Many California drivers who are cited think that it just isn't fair. "$500 because some camera claims that I didn't stop before turning right?" said one driver. "The courthouse might as well just reach into my pocket and take my money." Although the camera systems were originally designed to catch drivers trying to beat the light, in some jurisdictions 90% of citations are issued to those with "rolling right turns." (Source: TheNewspaper.com)
More and more drivers feel that the camera systems violate their rights, but they haven't known how to defend themselves. "Just as in many other scenarios, sometimes you just need professional help," Mr. Muender said. "Most drivers think that they have great defenses, but in reality they just won't hold up in court."
TicketKick is growing at an alarming rate, expanding by 900% from 2009 to 2010. Mr. Muender says that TicketKick fills a void that exists for people that want to contest their traffic tickets. "Thanks in part to the internet, we now live in a hybrid world of do-it-yourselfers that are able to get the professional help they need," Greg said. "Most drivers think they only have two options if they want to fight a traffic ticket; hire an expensive lawyer, or take on the case themselves. With TicketKick, we provide professional help at a fraction of the cost of an attorney, and we guarantee our defense cost. If we don't help our customers win their cases, then why should we keep their money?"
Although TicketKick specializes in red light camera tickets, they can provide service for nearly any moving violation, such as speeding, stop sign, carpool, cell phone, U Turn, and others.
Welcome to the TicketKick Blog! We look forward to helping you beat your traffic tickets by bringing you the latest news and updates through our blog. Please be sure to check back soon and thanks for visiting.