18 December 2008

KC to become a red-light district

If you borrow or rent a car and are caught committing a moving violation, who gets the ticket — you or the car's owner? You do, of course, because you are the one who violated the law. Ownership of the car is irrelevant. This is basic.
Never one to pass up a bad idea, Kansas City is getting into the "red-light camera" business, and the car's owner gets the ticket, even if the owner wasn't the driver.
The City Council passed it unanimously, but Councilwoman Cathy Jolly was the prime mover. She says, "This isn’t supposed to be a 'gotcha-game.'"
Using rather astonishing prevarication, the offense regarding these specific camera-monitored intersections is written (usually by the camera companies) as something other than a "moving violation," so no points are assessed against an operator's license. 
As a non-moving violation, the issue is a civil, not a criminal matter. If it were a criminal matter, the defendant would be entitled to a presumption of innocence, and the government would have to prove the defendant's guilt. Instead, as a civil matter, the government is free to presume the owner was the driver, and the owner must prove otherwise.
The vehicle's owner will pay a $100 fine, starting in March. The city expects to make $1 million annually. American Traffic Solutions, an Arizona corporation, is the contractor. The city, ATS, and the municipal court will split the cash.
Not that this is about filty lucre! Of course, it's all about safety
"Safety" that involves a municipality treating a criminal offense as a civil collection against a third-party. "Safety" that permits red-light runners to continue to do so as often as they like, without points against their driver's license, as long as the fines are paid.
One might imagine that if it was actually about "safety," in addition to the photograph, there would be some attendant caution to other motorists in the form of a delayed green signal or a warning klaxon.
Nah, there's no revenue to be had in that

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