Thursday, July 28, 2011

City of Los Angeles Fires Photo Cop

On July 27, 2011, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted against renewing the City's red light camera contract with American Traffic Solutions, which contract expires July 31, 2011. This vote come on the heels of Los Angeles Police Commission's vote on June 7 to end the photo enforcement program. The contract which costs the City $2.7 Million a year, has been losing $1.5 Million a year. Red light cameras have been used in Los Angeles since 2004, during which period some 180,000 photo citations have been issued. Currently, some 65,000 unpaid photo tickets are outstanding, and LA City Council members blame the losses on Los Angeles Superior Court's inability to enforce photo citations.

The Los Angeles Police Department's web page on Automated Photo Red Light Enforcement Program states: "Running a red light is a serious problem. Nationally, approximately 1,000 people die each year, and another 200,000 are injured as a result of a motorist running a red light...." Although the statistics showed red light cameras had contributed to increased saftey, the current financial concerns were a driving factor in doing away with red light cameras; the $446 fine per ticket could not cover the program's costs.

Red light cameras have also been referred to as "red light safety camera," "intersection safety camera," or just "photo cop." This technology was initially developed in the Netherlands in 1965, and has been used for traffic enforcement in Israel going back to 1969. The technology first came to use in the U.S. in the 1990's, and has been used in 26 states and the District of Columbia. Red light cameras have been the subject of various legal challeges in the United States, including those based on due process, passenger privacy, and the high costs of fines. Althouth the City of Los Angeles will cease further use of red light cameras, neighboring cities such as Culver City and Beverly Hills will continue their programs.

The materials for this blog were gathered from the following sources LAPD web site, Wikipedia, Los Angeles Times, Marvista Patch, and the Washington Post. For additional information, run a search on Google.

Robin Mashal is a California litigation attorney. He can be reached at (310) 286-2000.

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