Red light camera I gotchya systems should be illegal without proper legal protections mandated, and if elected, I would put teeth in the existing ban language under the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices [MUTCD] if those protections are not put into place.
MUTCD is a regulation set by the Dept of Transportation (DOT) & sets "the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway, or bicycle trail open to public travel." 23 CFR § 655.603(a); see 23 C.F.R. part 655 subpart F .
While California elected to adopt a state MUTCD & in 2006, the DOT Secretary approved the Calif. MUTCD as being in "substantial conformance" with the 2003 federal MUTCD. See Cal. DOT MUTCD 2006 (http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/signtech/mutcdsupp/ca_mutcd.htm; see CalVeh.C § 21400 & Oliver v. Ralph’s Grocery, 654 F.3d 903, 909-910, California still allows these clearly illegal systems, taking the view the law is not mandatory (despite the mandatory language "shall"--See below).
California’s 2012 Edition of MUTCD FHWA’s MUTCD 2009 Edition, as amended in California) Chptr 4D [Traffic Control Signal Features January 13, 2012 Part 4 – Highway Traffic Signals P. 863§ 4D.06 Signal Indications–Design, Illumination, Color, and Shape Standard]: Under “03"states (like the federal MUTCD):
“ Strobes shall not be used within or adjacent to any signal indication.”
The arguments for the federal legislation is to restore due process and basic constitutional right protections to the hearing and evidence gathering process, we need uniformity in our laws & law enforcement throughout the state if not for the abstraction that constitutional rights of confrontation & authentication being worth defending but also for due process & fundamental fairness reasons. Were that not enough, we need to bring some credibility back to the letter of the law being something cities need to follow (and not just their citizens).
What we have now if people testifying that show a picture and short video clip a computer somehow records & is processed to become the sole basis for citations & convictions. The problem,is the person testifying does not have personal knowledge the system is working. In a recent case a City employee was asked:
"Redflex and the CITY agree in the contract that the red light camera program program, which includes software, is proprietary [per Paragraph 1.20 of the Contract], leaving defendants with only the City representative to question about whether it is working or not as it should be.
Yet when the CITY’s representative is asked about the various operating systems listed in the Contract, she testifies as to what the systems generally are, but has no idea if that software which is necessary part of the system worked when capturing [defendant's] alleged violation:
Q: “Well, do you know what SmartCam is”
A: Smartcam is [Redflex's] program equipment.”
Q: Okay. You don’t have any personal knowledge of how it works; do you?”
A: No, I do not.”
Q. And you don’t have any personal knowledge that it was working at the time of [defendant's] alleged violation was captured by the cameras; do you?”
A: “No, I do not.”
Q: “How about SmartOps? What is that?
A: “SmartOps is the operation standard that controls the Redflex program.”
Q: “Okay. And do you have any personal knowledge as to whether or not the SmartOps system was working on day that the alleged violation was captured by the Redflex camera of [Defendant]”
A: “No, I do not.”
Q. “How about SmartScene, section 1.26 of the contract. Any knowledge as to what that system is?”
A: “Yes. It gives me the capability of looking at – at the intersections in real time.”
Q: “Okay. Do you know if it was working correctly at the time you saw this violation?”
A: “I don’t have no personal [knowledge]“
Legislation I would propose would require Redflex and American Traffic Solutions to make available experts who can verify the system and its software was working for each and every violation on the day the images were allegedly taken AND be available for cross examination BEFORE any conviction can be entered AND that each and every violation only be issued by a peace officer that observed the violation on the monitor WHEN it happens and that officer is available to be cross examined at trial BEFORE any conviction can be entered.
Message prepared by candidate
Bob Conaway for Congress (CA-08)
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