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Speed Tickets Challenged Based On Timestamped Photos

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  • 50% of the budget (Score:5, Interesting)

    by suso (153703) * on Thursday April 21, 2011 @03:41PM (#35898464) Homepage Journal

    Mr. Foreman’s tickets were all issued in Forest Heights, a town of about 2,600 where officials expected $2.9 million in ticket revenue this fiscal year, about half the town’s $5.8 million budget.

    Couldn't get people to pay taxes for that new community pool there? Sheesh.

  • by jcoy42 (412359) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @03:44PM (#35898492) Homepage Journal

    I got a ticket from one of those things 2 weeks ago; when it flashed, I looked down. I was doing 48. I've checked my speedometer using a GPS, and it's accurage. They aren't supposed to take a picture until 10 miles over the limit (the limit there is 40, so it shouldn't have taken a picture until 50). The ticket that came in the mail said I was doing 52.

    I talked to a lawyer, and was told to just pay the bill, less trouble and less expensive in the long run.. so, that was $218.

    The real kicker on the ticket was that each offense must be reviewed by a real cop with a badge number. The cop's name? Officer Dollar.

    Bastards.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2011 @03:52PM (#35898614)

    well some states have "reckless endangerment" set at a certain speed so yes, calibration should be a part of the system so it is accurate; especially if you are going to make money off of it... 4mph/48 --> 12% error, pretty bad.

  • by frinkster (149158) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @03:57PM (#35898712)

    From the article:

    Optotraffic representatives said the photos are not intended to capture the actual act of speeding, and are taken nearly 50 feet down the road from sensors as a way to prove the vehicle was on the road.

    How does proving that a car was on the road prove that it was speeding?

  • by davidwr (791652) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @03:59PM (#35898740) Homepage Journal

    A lawyer with some spare cash can rent an instrumented "bait car" with certified-instruments that will be admissible in court and prove once and for all that the cameras lie, then sue the city on behalf of all who were convicted or who plead guilty under what amounts to duress.

    The city can then sue the vendor for the 40% cut it paid back.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:01PM (#35898772)

    I'm at work, so I can't look it up, but do a google/youtube search on "atlanta speed limit 55" or something like that.

    TL;DR: Some college kids decided to go the speed limit on Atlanta's 295 loop, which is posted at 55mph, but traffic travels around 70+ mph. They got five cars and blocked all lanes, and went 55 mph. The video editing is atrocious, but the point is very good.

    The government intentionally posts low speed limits so everyone is guilty. Once everyone is guilty, they are free to pull over anyone, at any time, for any reason, and cite "speeding" as the reason.

  • Re:camera con? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Carnildo (712617) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:01PM (#35898778) Homepage Journal

    There have been studies that show a huge increase in collision, especially rear-end collisions at intersection cameras.

    There's a tradeoff involved with red-light cameras: they increase rear-end collisions, which have a low injury rate, but decrease T-bone collisions, which often result in major injury or death. Total collision rate at the intersection goes up, but the injury and death rate goes down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:11PM (#35898954)

    I got one a few years ago that was bogus. It was the definitely the truck right in front of me, not me but it didn't matter. I tried to fight it but the appeals process was a joke--basically amounting to someone looking at the video and saying you are guilty. They didn't care to hear anything you had to say.

    A lawyer advised me to simply ignore it. Don't pay it. It's a civil penalty not a criminal citation so they can't do anything more then send a debt collector after you. Eventually I did get a debt collection notice from an out of state law firm, and again following the original lawyers advice I replied with a letter stating that I believed the debt to be invalid and I asked them to send me proof of the debt in accordance with the Federal Debt Collection Procedure Act. As I understand it when you challenge the validity of a debt it is illegal for them to put a black mark on your credit record if you don't pay and they don't provide proof the debt is valid.

    I never heard anything more about it. It's apparently not worth their time to follow up and "prove" the debt.

  • by _0xd0ad (1974778) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:18PM (#35899054) Journal

    No, they are saying he was able to decelerate 15 MPH in the ~50 foot distance between where his vehicle was when it was supposedly clocked, and where it was when its photo was snapped.You RTFA.

    Optotraffic representatives said the photos are not intended to capture the actual act of speeding, and are taken nearly 50 feet down the road from sensors as a way to prove the vehicle was on the road. ... “Their speed is not measured by the photos. The speed is measured before the photos are taken.”

    Of course, that does bring up the question of why they need 2 photos if they aren't using them to determine the vehicle's speed.

  • by _0xd0ad (1974778) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:20PM (#35899118) Journal

    The photos are clearly intended to prove that the vehicle was at that place at that time. If the vehicle was not at that exact place at that exact time, they are inaccurate and should be inadmissible in court.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:23PM (#35899152) Journal

    I don't think that's right. A time stamp on disk might be placed in the image as it gets written out, but that's only accurate with 1 second granularity anyway, making those time stamps useless. This is talking about a time stamp that contains much more precise time stamping information, likely burned into the (possibly non-digital) image by physical hardware in the camera, which almost certainly means that it is generated at the same time the picture is generated.

    If it is being burned into the image after the fact, then the camera vendor is being dumb, particularly since the whole purpose of those photos is to prove that an infraction really occurred, and burning in the time stamps after the photo is taken is basically tampering with evidence.

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:24PM (#35899162)

    Going from 50 mph to 20 mph in 0.363 seconds means he would have had to been decelerating at about 3.7Gs.

  • by icebike (68054) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:45PM (#35899450)

    which almost certainly means that it is generated at the same time the picture is generated

    No. That's exactly my point. The time stamps are generated AFTER the picture is taken.

    In order for the time stamps to measure EXACT time the picture is taken you need a realtime clock running in the focal plane.
    NASA does this.

    Off the shelf CCDs do not have this.

    The time stamp is inserted at processing time. Its not in the raw image.

    If you take any reasonable camera that offers time stamping AND a three-shot mode, you can replicate this yourself.
    Put it in three shot mode, and select RAW image. That image is exactly how it comes from the CCD. Offload that
    image to computer and it will not contain a time stamp (because its raw).

  • by _0xd0ad (1974778) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @04:47PM (#35899488) Journal

    So they're tampering with the evidence by putting false timestamps on the photos.

  • Re:50% of the budget (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Labcoat Samurai (1517479) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @06:12PM (#35900664)

    My "wow" wasn't over the size of the budget, but of the percentage that was paid for by speeding tickets alone. I mean, what if nobody speeds some year, which is what you want anyways, right?

    Because speed limits and enforcement are about *safety*, not about *revenue*..... riiight. It's what they've always told me when I get pulled over for speeding. One time, I had even sped up to pass a guy more quickly, because I was being tailgated. Speeding a little bit permitted me to get out of the passing lane and let the unsafe driver pass me, but the cop still told me they were cracking down on speeding to "improve safety". Bullshit.

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