Technology is making our lives more comfortable and convenient, but it’s also presenting some new and interesting problems. For example, it used to be that if you violated a traffic law, a police officer needed to witness the violation for you to get a ticket. Today, all the local police need is an automated traffic camera.
There has been some controversy surrounding automated traffic cameras, to be sure; one judge in San Diego, for example, threw out over 300 cases involving one traffic camera. Citizens groups in Arizona have protested these devices, and sought to get them banned from use.
All that said, it doesn’t seem likely that automated traffic cameras are going away anytime soon. That means you need to be prepared for when one of them gets you in its sights.
Here are some tactics you can try in order to beat a ticket issued because of a traffic camera:
- Consider anti-camera tactics. There are a number of products on the market today that are designed to foil traffic cameras or radar. Some of them rely on reflective paint. This paint is invisible to the naked eye, and it is applied to your vehicle’s license plate. When viewed through the lens of a camera, this paint obscures your license plate number. Make sure you check state and local laws as to whether this practice may be illegal in your area; currently, Pennsylvania has outlawed the practice, and other states have considered similar legislation.
- Don’t violate traffic laws to begin with. Running a red light and speeding are the most common violations captured by automated traffic cameras. If you don’t want to face an infraction, don’t commit one. That being said, the technology isn’t perfect. There are times when you may well be following the law, yet an automated traffic camera malfunctions and issues you a ticket anyways. That’s part of the problem, and one of the most common reasons that many citizens are opposed to the technology.
- Explore legal options. Automated traffic camera results are being challenged in court on a regular basis. To be sure, it’s an uphill fight; for every case that’s been successfully challenged, there are hundreds that have not. It doesn’t hurt to talk to an attorney, of course, as there may be special circumstances that make your case more likely to succeed.
- Obscure your identity. One of the basic principles behind automated traffic cameras is that they must be able to identify the driver. After all, if you’re not driving your car, you can’t get a ticket. There are a variety of tactics people have used to try to do this, such as cross-registering your vehicle with your spouse’s vehicle, or even using clothing to obscure your identity when you drive. These measures have been met with varying degrees of success; if the image captured by the camera looks like you in any way at all, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to pay the ticket.
- Ask the judge or magistrate for a deferred judgment. Even if you’re guilty, and even if you really don’t have a case, you may be able to reduce or even get rid of your traffic ticket fine. One way to do that is to ask the court for a deferred judgment. The basic premise is this: the court decides to hold off on judging your case for a certain period of time. If during that time you have no additional infractions, the court will drop the charges. This is often an option for first-time offenders.
- Talk to your legislators. The movement against automated traffic cameras is gaining ground in some states. While some legislators are hesitant to go against the wishes of law enforcement in this area, others are willing to listen. While talking to your representatives may not get you out of the ticket you’re facing right now, over time it could lead to the removal of automated traffic cameras and reduce your risk over the long run.
- Be ready for a fight. If you’re serious about beating a ticket, realize that you might have to take it all the way. It might mean paying more in legal fees than the ticket, and it might mean lots of time and energy. If the violation is a severe one, however, it might still be worth it. Know how far you’re willing to go before you start to fight.
The odds are stacked against you beating a ticket, but if you follow some of these steps you just might be able to overcome those odds.
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