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How I Beat a Florida Red Light Camera Ticket

 

Sometimes you get lucky in court. Here's how I pled my case:

In June I was driving up US 19 in Port Richey Florida through a cluster of red light camera intersections. While happy chugging along at the speed limit, I missed being able to stop safely and knew that I was going to end up in the middle of the intersection no matter how hard I braked, so I made a considered decision to continue. Well, my attempt to stop delayed me long enough for a camera to snap my license plate and voila, I got a ticket from the vendor in Phoenix. I pled not guilty and a court date was set.

On the 13th of December, I sat in a court room with about 90 other people -- all there for the same reason. By the time the session began, about 60 of them lost heart and pled "no contest" and paid the customary fine. When my turn came up, I was very polite, spoke loudly and clearly, and conducted myself as professionally as possible. I suggest that the court has little respect for people who cow-tow, mumble, stutter, and act intimidated. The "prosecution" in this matter was the police captain who sits behind a computer all day looking at videos of cars blowing through the 11 controlled intersections in Port Richey. (Yup, they can afford a Captain for that job).

The Captain played the video of my car, with brake lights ON passing over the white line just as the light was turning from yellow to red. Now the State standard for yellow lights on a straight 45 MPH road is 4.3 seconds duration. I timed all the intersections with red-light cameras and found them to be not a millisecond longer than 4.3 seconds. Other non-camera lights had yellow times from 4.7 to 5.9 seconds long!

The first point I raised to the court was "ergonomics" -- I described to the court how we are subconsciously attuned to ergonomics every day by using the example of standard stair heights, doorknob positions, and the like. If we encounter a door knob that, for example is two inches lower than the customary standard, we really notice it. I contend it is the same for yellow light times. Since many of the lights in the city average 5 or more seconds, the encounter at a red light with a camera, set at 4.3 seconds, shifts the ergonomics by 7 tenths of a second. Not much, but just enough to flummox people into "running" the light.

Secondly, I went on to ask the police officer if he had any disabilities that would preclude him from continuing to be a police officer for the city. He asked, "what kind of disability?" I asked, "If you were blind, could you work as an officer?" "Of course not", he replied. "If you were deaf?" "No, deafness is a disqualifying disability." “Thank you, sir. Is there a microphone on the camera that took the video of my car in June?” “No.” “Okay, so you rely on a device to do the work of a police officer yet the device does not meet the physical requirements because it’s deaf?” “Well, that doesn’t matter,” he offered. I said, “Would it matter if there was the sound of an emergency vehicle nearby, such as a siren? And would not a live police officer, with all his faculties, standing on that corner, have understood the necessity to keep that intersection clear?

Oh, just one more question (a little Columbo-like move) sir. How long are the red lights lit on all sides at the same time, I mean when a light turns red, how long is the delay until the other light turns green?” He said, “about 2 seconds give or take.” I then asked, “why is it that there is a 2 second delay before the other light turns green?” He said, “to give traffic time to clear the intersection before the opposing traffic starts. It’s a safety measure.” I asked, “Would you say this is common practice around the country?” He said, “well, it’s in the Federal Uniform Traffic Standards Manual.” I said, “Yes indeed. Standards which make our life a little more similar and predictable – the Federal Government recognizes ergonomics!” I thanked the Officer.

My third and final point was the legal standard of “mens rea” which, loosely translated from Latin is “guilty mind”. I quoted Wikipedia and said, “In criminal law, it is viewed as one of the necessary elements of a crime. The standard common law test of criminal liability is usually expressed in the Latin phrase, “actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea”, which means "the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty". Thus, in jurisdictions with due process, there must be an actus reus accompanied by some level of mens rea to constitute the crime with which the defendant is charged. Therefore, your honor, in light of the ergonomic position that I was faced with in attempting to stop, as evidenced by my brake lights being illuminated well-before I entered the intersection, and compounded by the fact that I could have continued on for two more seconds while ALL lights were set to be red before I posed any traffic threat, and finally, since the State has failed to prove its case with respect to showing my intent to commit this offense, I move for a verdict of not guilty.

The old Florida judge, who was not cutting any slack that evening, sat back and paused for a moment. Then he leaned forward and said, “I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt. I agree that the State has not met its burden and therefore I declare you not guilty!” I was the only one of thirty people that night who “won” their case and cheated the Florida money machine. Now, I save a lot of court time by keeping my poi’s up to date on POI FACTORY!

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Congratulations!

Good job. With the exception of going through a red light to let an emergency vehicle through, I didn't think anyone got off from a red light ticket.

David

Big Bang

Your defense reminded me of Sheldon on Big Bang. But he wound up in jail. It was a funny episode.

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1490LMT 1450LMT 295w

All in the timing

MarkZiemba wrote:

Now the State standard for yellow lights on a straight 45 MPH road is 4.3 seconds duration. I timed all the intersections with red-light cameras and found them to be not a millisecond longer than 4.3 seconds. Other non-camera lights had yellow times from 4.7 to 5.9 seconds long!

Shortening the timing to the minimum time only at red light cameras! mad That is just plain wrong. Vote them all out, fire the rest and start over.

Many years ago I worked in Ocean City, MD year round for a few years. During the slow winter months all of the redlights on the main drag were set to blink yellow. In the spring you could obviously tell who the locals were because for the first week they turned the red lights back on we slammed brakes and skid through the intersections all up and down the main drag. Its all in what you become accustomed to. Al least the local police there gave us locals a week or two to reprogram our driving habits in town.

It just proves we are trainable through repetition.

--
Zumo 665, (2) Nuvi 765Ts & 1450LMT | 2005 Harley Road King, Black Cherry Pearl / Black Pearl

.

Like Pavlov's dog, humans respond to behavioral stimuli, both positive and negative reinforcement.

--
nüvi 3790T | nüvi 775T | Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable ~ JFK

.

Ruff ...

--
Zumo 665, (2) Nuvi 765Ts & 1450LMT | 2005 Harley Road King, Black Cherry Pearl / Black Pearl

.

Good boy! Sit! Stay! mrgreen

--
nüvi 3790T | nüvi 775T | Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable ~ JFK

Very clever...truly...I hope your gilded tongue >>>

will talk you out of the a$$whipping that Capt will be laying on you next time he sees you on the street smile :)

--
"You can't get there from here"

We actually respond to

We actually respond to positive reinforcements better and more deeply than negitive ones.

True

But, in the absence of one, the other will prevail as dominant for behavioral modification.

--
nüvi 3790T | nüvi 775T | Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable ~ JFK

OH NO!

I think I started a thread hijacking. Sorry MarkZiemba.

Just when I thought I was trainable I messed up again.

--
Zumo 665, (2) Nuvi 765Ts & 1450LMT | 2005 Harley Road King, Black Cherry Pearl / Black Pearl

!

Bad dog, no biscuit!

--
nüvi 3790T | nüvi 775T | Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable ~ JFK

It's All Good

TMK wrote:

Very clever...truly...I hope your gilded tongue >>> will talk you out of the a$$whipping that Capt will be laying on you next time he sees you on the street smile :)

Actually TMK, the Captain smiled and shook my hand after the verdict. He had no personal investment in this and gets the same pay whether someone is found guilty or innocent. It's all about the dead presidents -- no emotion.

BTW, nice bike.

awesome

Yes!!! This is what I like to hear.

How long did it take you to prepare your defense?

I would think it a few hours plus the time in court.

--
jvandas

That's

outstanding, really a good job. You should do part work for a law firm

--
2597 Sometimes I wonder..."Why is that Frisbee getting bigger?"...and then, it hits me.

Kudos...

...for selecting and developing salient points. You were justly rewarded. As one who lives in #3 camera region, 4.3 second fact was not lost on me...

Eat You Heart Out, F. Lee Bailey

MarkZiemba wrote:

I quoted Wikipedia and said,

I guess you have us at a big disadvantage here in California. Our courts have yet to accept Wikipedia as a legal document.

Nice Work!

Very impressive. You obviously have some legal background.

Similar attempt didn't work

when I was in traffic court. Poor guy had gone around and timed a bunch of yellow lights and found inconsistencies. Didn't mention the ergonomics angle tho. Judge ended up rolling his eyes, cutting him off, saying 'nice try' and found him guilty.

Enjoyed

reading your post.

--
260, 295W, 1490T,2455LMT

great post.

Something to think about.

I know in some places in the States when I was there (Chicago mainly) there is almost ZERO delay to the opposing traffic. Dangerous.

Another Story...

--
Tampa, FL - Garmin nüvi 660 (Software Ver 4.90), 2015.10 CN NA NT maps | Magellan Meridian Gold

Curious To Know

Pardon my ignorance.
I've never been in the situation but wonder what would happen if the situation occurred.

Let's say I was heading southbound on a two lane road. As I entered the intersection of say a 4 lane road. An Emergency Vehicle with lights & sirens on is heading east, I stop while in the westbound lane and allow the vehicle to pass before I continue south.

While stopped, the light turned red, a picture is snapped and I am a candidate for a summons. I wonder if they have a picture of the emergency vehicle going through the light heading east.

Do they review these pictures before mailing me the summons, or do they just mail the summons and it's my responsibility to prove my case?

Are pictures of my vehicle sent to me with the summons or only the summons?

--
Nuvi 660 2460LMT Sold My 765T

Congratulations

Happy to hear your story and the well deserved positive outcome. Sadly, there were certainly others in the courtroom with similar legitimate stories who did not have the knowledge and skills you demonstrated, and the state happily collected their money.

Interesting Thought..

muell9k wrote:

Pardon my ignorance.
I've never been in the situation but wonder what would happen if the situation occurred.

Let's say I was heading southbound on a two lane road. As I entered the intersection of say a 4 lane road. An Emergency Vehicle with lights & sirens on is heading east, I stop while in the westbound lane and allow the vehicle to pass before I continue south.

While stopped, the light turned red, a picture is snapped and I am a candidate for a summons. I wonder if they have a picture of the emergency vehicle going through the light heading east.

Do they review these pictures before mailing me the summons, or do they just mail the summons and it's my responsibility to prove my case?

Are pictures of my vehicle sent to me with the summons or only the summons?

Interesting..

Nuvi1300WTGPS

--
I'm not really lost.... just temporarily misplaced!

Details

If you are legally astute as some, which I sure the heck ain't, you would contact the local authorities and ask for a copy of their 911 dispatch records showing an emergency vehicle being dispatched at that time and place. Or you could try and quote Wikipedia. Not today though, they are upset and closed down.

Again

muell9k wrote:

Pardon my ignorance.
I've never been in the situation but wonder what would happen if the situation occurred.

Let's say I was heading southbound on a two lane road. As I entered the intersection of say a 4 lane road. An Emergency Vehicle with lights & sirens on is heading east, I stop while in the westbound lane and allow the vehicle to pass before I continue south.

While stopped, the light turned red, a picture is snapped and I am a candidate for a summons. I wonder if they have a picture of the emergency vehicle going through the light heading east.

Do they review these pictures before mailing me the summons, or do they just mail the summons and it's my responsibility to prove my case?

Are pictures of my vehicle sent to me with the summons or only the summons?

As you can see I boo-booed

If you are legally astute as some, which I sure the heck ain't, you would contact the local authorities and ask for a copy of their 911 dispatch records showing an emergency vehicle being dispatched at that time and place. Or you could try and quote Wikipedia. Not today though, they are upset and closed down.

big city

It's ok imho in a small town for people to give others a break, I mean I didn't read the op verbatim and I already wanted to let him go.

In a big city if you observe certain intersections, it's not one, not two, not three, but sometimes 4 and 5 vehicles that run a red. imho cameras stop that unwanted behavior.

Good Thing

Good thing you didn't need Wikipaedia today. (SOPA blackout day)

That was my first thought.

That was my first thought.

That's a great defense and

That's a great defense and I'm glad you beat the system. I hate these red light cameras and believe they cause more accidents then they prevent.

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Thanks, Dave

camera

their is a National Organization that is offering cities $10,000 Dollar Grant if they will extend the red light duration at intersections longer all 4 ways. If the accident rate does not go down after extending the red light time they will give the cities the money in a grant to study the safety of the intersection. The kicker is no city will take the offer therefore it's about money not safety.

i think i understand what you are trying to say

Bobby C wrote:

their is a National Organization that is offering cities $10,000 Dollar Grant if they will extend the red light duration at intersections longer all 4 ways. If the accident rate does not go down after extending the red light time they will give the cities the money in a grant to study the safety of the intersection. The kicker is no city will take the offer therefore it's about money not safety.

If you are trying to state somebody is offering a grant to have a city change the timing on its traffic lights, and the grant amount is $10K, then there are many reasons why there have been no takers. First off, how many signals need to be changed? And who does the study? is the city given the grant before starting or on the completion? Finally, do you have any idea on what the cost is to change the signal timing - not at a single intersection but for all the signals that are part of that particular corridor? No wonder there have been no takers.

--
"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." -- John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. president

Great read.

Great write up. I don't think even having your red light camera warning would have helped. Sometimes it cant be helped having to go through a red light. Do i try to stop and end up in the middle of the intersection and have to back up or go through.

--
Nuvi 660. Nuvi 40 Check out. www.houserentalsorlando.com Irish Saying. A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.

I have just one thing to say

When it comes to the government and red light cameras F. T. G. and their cameras, the cameras cause accidents. I have witnessed accidents caused by cameras. The government is interested ONLY in the money generated and not in safety.

--
"Ceterum autem censeo, Carthaginem esse delendam" “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

Congrats

Prying your money from there hands was quite a feat.

You can't blame the camera, only the drivers.

Double Tap wrote:

When it comes to the government and red light cameras F. T. G. and their cameras, the cameras cause accidents. I have witnessed accidents caused by cameras. The government is interested ONLY in the money generated and not in safety.

How is it the camera's fault that the driver did not brake?

I find it rather difficult to blame the camera for causing the accident instead of blaming the person who wants to run the redlight who rear-ended the driver that stopped for the light...

The camera did not force the person to attempt to run the red light.

--
Streetpilot C340 Nuvi 2595 LMT

Nice

Glad to hear the judge accepted a reasonable argument.
My guess is the Captain was impressed that you thought enough of him to ask him respectful and intelligent questions.

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Nuvi 2595LMT, Nuvi 1490T, Nuvi 260, GPSMAP 195

Good Job

I think you should start a new career as a traffic lawyer. That would help many people.

Beat the Cash Machine

Excellently presented.

Keep up the great work.

--
romanviking

Congratulations!

This is a great story on beating a RLC.

Thanks

for sharing your experience with us!

--
Garmin C550 and Nuvi 1490T. Eastern Iowa, formerly Southern California "You can check out any time you like...but you can never leave."

Blinded By The Camera..

shrifty wrote:

How is it the camera's fault that the driver did not brake?

I find it rather difficult to blame the camera for causing the accident instead of blaming the person who wants to run the redlight who rear-ended the driver that stopped for the light...

The camera did not force the person to attempt to run the red light.

Looks like here's another one who can't see the forest from the trees! rolleyes

Nuvi1300WTGPS

--
I'm not really lost.... just temporarily misplaced!

I apologize

Nuvi1300WTGPS wrote:
shrifty wrote:

How is it the camera's fault that the driver did not brake?

I find it rather difficult to blame the camera for causing the accident instead of blaming the person who wants to run the redlight who rear-ended the driver that stopped for the light...

The camera did not force the person to attempt to run the red light.

Looks like here's another one who can't see the forest from the trees! rolleyes

Nuvi1300WTGPS

Sorry, I failed to realize that running redlights is a "right", regardless of what traffic in front of you is doing. Even is someone stops in front of you, it is still your right to blow through the individual who is obeying the law. My apologies.

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Streetpilot C340 Nuvi 2595 LMT

...

Great story! I've always wondered how one would be treated if there was an ambulance behind a car stopped at a red light, trying to get by with a camera ready to zap the poor car.

Traffic Signals

telecomdigest2 wrote:

Great story! I've always wondered how one would be treated if there was an ambulance behind a car stopped at a red light, trying to get by with a camera ready to zap the poor car.

Where I come from, we have traffic signal preemption.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_signal_preemption

I don't know if they have those in Florida, but it cancels out the whole argument of an approaching emergency vehicle if they do.

Awesome job!

Which POI are you using?

--
Sam G.

tickets

interesting, you trying to help others or just proud not to get a ticket like everyone else or both?

either way, good story!

--
"real achievement in life comes down to three key elements. preparation, timing and execution!" quote by president LBJ

My court decision is based on cost effectiveness

I have never contested a camera ticket because it costs me triple what the ticket would cost. The effort to collect collateral evidence and statistics, the cost to me to take a at least 4 hours of leave, the additional cost to park or metro, the psychic cost to get up and present a case, and the sheer boredom of sitting in a courtroom listening to hundreds of cases makes it too expensive to fight the ticket.

Exactly

Hawkthree wrote:

I have never contested a camera ticket because it costs me triple what the ticket would cost. The effort to collect collateral evidence and statistics, the cost to me to take a at least 4 hours of leave, the additional cost to park or metro, the psychic cost to get up and present a case, and the sheer boredom of sitting in a courtroom listening to hundreds of cases makes it too expensive to fight the ticket.

That's what makes actually getting out of an automated ticket, like winning the lottery. What are the chances?

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