How to NEVER Get Busted By Photo Radar
Every day our offices are bombarded with calls from people who have been caught on film doing the lead-foot thing in school zones, and who want to ask questions about the machines, the law and the policy behind the system. The questions callers ask fall into two categories, which I will label, "This violates my rights because ... " and "How do I get out of this?"What most people are shocked to learn is that you the individual have complete and total control over the photo radar system and can actually manipulate it to your advantage! That much said, onto the lesson.HOW TO GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL NEVER GET BUSTED BY PHOTO-COPNow that I have your attention, it's time for a brief lesson in civics. No, not physics (the technology behind the photo radar machine is so solid and consistent you can set your digital watch by it, which, by the way, is also based upon the same quantum mechanical principles), but civics. When most of us (myself included) think of civics, a wash of drowsiness falls over us. This is a classic response to the conditioning our public schools bestowed upon us in civics class. It is also the reason why we all need a brief civics refresher.Most of us seem to have a vague sense of the rights we have as citizens of this great land, but overlook the fact that along with rights come responsibilities. You have a duty to obey the law. It's part of the contract that we the people as citizens have made with we the people acting collectively as a government. So, the one hundred percent guaranteed way to avoid a photo radar ticket is to not speed."But wait!" many of my callers say, "They gave me a ticket for speeding in a school zone at 6:00 p.m.! That's not fair."We all have to agree that the government should not be unfair. But what's unfair about giving a citation at any particular hour? The city posts big friendly looking signs that say "photo-radar," and the signs even have a little picture of a camera on them for the polysyllabically challenged. The speed limit signs themselves are plenty large (my elderly and near-sighted neighbor Emma can even make them out without her glasses: "Slow down, buckwheat!" she yells at me). So what's unfair about that? Nothing. The policy behind the system is to protect kids in a school zone and the unfairness argument misses two critical points: (1) Kids are there late: They stay after school for sports, extra-curricular activities etc. And (2) the law says that you are not supposed to speed in school zones, so we all have a duty not to speed. In a nutshell, if you obey the law, you'll never get busted."Great." Many of my callers say. "But now that I have one, isn't there something that I can do to defeat it?" Yes. The citations that they mail out are defective, and the way that they mail them to you is legally insufficient. In order for a court to take action against you, it has to have, amongst other things, jurisdiction over you as a person ("personal jurisdiction" in lawyer jargon). One way the court gets personal jurisdiction over you is when (1) an authorized person (2) properly issues a valid citation to you. To be valid, the issuing officer has to sign it, and then it has to be properly served, i.e. it has to be handed to you face to face or be mailed by certified or registered mail.None of that occurs with photo radar citations. The "citation" bears no signature, it hasn't been sworn to, and it is mailed standard mail. There is no way of telling whether or not it was issued by an authorized person. Without going into too much detail, I can tell you that if you make a motion to the court to dismiss the citation because, "the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the defendant," the citation will, in all likelihood, be dismissed. "That's just weaseling out of it on a technicality. It's a procedural game." the law and order types cry. Not so.Getting back to our lesson, these whiners need to keep in mind that the government holds all of the cards. They make the rules, they set up the systems, they sign the big-dollar contracts to pay a grossly huge sum of money to the photo radar company (and give that company incentive to tweak the machines to their economic benefit), and they are the first ones to jump on your back when you don't follow their rules and procedures. They are also the first ones to boo-hoo when they are held to the same standards as you and I. Just as you must obey the law, they must also.Hold them to it.