01/12/05 — Too bad (hee hee): Traffic-light camera program in jeopardy

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Too bad (hee hee): Traffic-light camera program in jeopardy

There has always been a problem with the way those traffic-light cameras worked. Now there are two problems.

They work like this:

A camera is aimed at an intersection that is governed by a traffic light. It is positioned so that it can see both the cars passing through the intersection and the color of the light. If a car passes through a red light, its license number is traced and the car’s owner has to pony up a $50 fine.

But suppose the owner wasn’t driving the car. He still has to pay, and the judicial system simply isn’t supposed to punish people for offenses they didn’t commit.

That’s the first problem.

Now an astute Superior Court judge in Guilford County, Lindsay Davis Jr., has found another one.

Under the state Constitution, the “clear proceeds” from fines are supposed to go to North Carolina’s school systems. Yet, cities like High Point, which was defending a suit before Davis, earmark a part of their fines for the contractor who runs the traffic-light camera program.

It is almost as though the contractors were working on commission.

High Point had been sued by one of its residents, Henry Shavitz, who maintained that this was a violation of the state Constitution. Davis agreed, and that puts traffic-light cameras in jeopardy all over North Carolina.

Some of us won’t cry about that.

Published in Editorials on January 12, 2005 11:43 AM