The Star reports that officials in many Indiana cities are asking that the legislature give them the go ahead to install cameras to catch motorists who run red lights. Attorney General Steve Carter had issued a legal opinion saying that cities and towns cannot do it on their own - they had to receive the authority from the legislature.
I do not understand how these cameras are supposed to work from a legal standpoint. When you go to court, even traffic court, there has to be a positive ID by the prosecution that the defendant appearing before the judge committed the offense. I am not sure how that is supposed to work with red light cameras. Unless those cameras somehow photograph the driver of the car, there would not be that link between the individual and the offense that is required in court. I know most traffic offenses are infractions. But even with infractions, you have to show the individual committed the offense.
I'm sure that some people are going to roll out that nonsense that driving is a "privilege" and not a "right." No, driving is a conditional right just like most rights. The "driving is a privilege not a right" is simply a BMV slogan that has no legal effect whatsoever.
Unless the cameras have a way of identifying the driver of the car, this is something I would not support. It sounds like simply a revenue generating tool for cities and towns.
"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first, verdict afterwards."
That is my experience with traffic court. Why ever would they need a picture of the driver?
The sad part? Places where "red light" cameras have been used for awhile are discontinuing them wholesale.
Indiana. Always behind the curve!
Unfortunately, they seem to have held up well in courts in other states. I believe because it is treated as an administrative fine similar to a parking ticket, not a personal infraction like speeding.
Moving offenses have always been treated differently than parking tickets in this state. The legal basis for the distinction, I'm not sure of.
Infractions are civil cases; can't plead the 5th. So the prosecutor or city attorney can just ask if you were driving, and if not, who was. I certainly wouldn't risk committing a felony (perjury) by saying I wasn't driving.
While traffic cases are infractions and not criminal, I do believe that the State cannot make you testify just like they can't in a criminal case. That was my understanding and I have done a few cases in traffic court. I checked with another attorney who also has done traffic court cases and does a lot of criminal cases. He also said he did not believe that they can force you to testify in a traffic court infaction cases.
We are not 100% sure though...
You might want to look into this case in Ohio for more details on their reasoning. Obviously, Indiana has not yet litigated it, but I'm sure someone would challenge the cameras here if they came into being.
Then you run into the issue of municipalities shortening the yellow light cycle in order to drive more revenue to the cameras....
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