Who knew L.A.’s red-light camera fines were ‘voluntary’?
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Bob Brickman spent months fighting a ticket he got last fall from a red light traffic camera at Wilshire and Sepulveda Boulevards in West Los Angeles. Eventually he got fed up with the law and paid the $476 dollar fine. Little did he know that he actually did not need to pay the fine because paying the fee for running a red light is actually voluntary!
“City officials this week spotlighted a surprising revelation involving red-light camera tickets: Authorities cannot force violators who simply don’t respond to pay them. For a variety of reasons, including the way the law was written, Los Angeles officials say the fines for ticketed motorists are essentially “voluntary” and there are virtually no tangible consequences for those who refuse to pay.
The disclosure comes as the city is considering whether to drop the controversial photo enforcement program, with the City Council scheduled to vote on the matter Wednesday. Even if the program is shut down, it will be little consolation to the tens of thousands like Brickman who already paid fines.”
“Now that makes me nuts,” said Brickman, who is unemployed. “That makes me want to go get a refund, but I’ve been around long enough to know that’s not going to happen. It’s very frustrating to know that I was victimized by something that they think is not useful or a good idea.… I could truly use that $476.”
Councilman Paul Koretz said motorists like Brickman should not expect refunds. But he said the city’s inability to collect on the red-light camera tickets underscores the need to kill the program.
“There are many, many reasons to get rid of the red-light cameras, but one of the most compelling is the way the court system handles the tickets,” Koretz said.
More than 180,000 motorists have been issued red-light camera tickets since the program, which has equipment monitoring approaches to 32 intersections, began in 2004 in Los Angeles.
Unlike other moving citations, which are issued directly by a police officer to a driver who signs a promise to appear in court, red-light camera tickets are mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle allegedly involved in the violation.
That has limited the Los Angeles County Superior Court system’s willingness to aggressively enforce camera ticket collections for the city and 32 other photo enforcement programs in Los Angeles County, officials said.
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