Back To School: Police Targeting School Zones for Safety


News from the Petaluma PD:

The City of Petaluma Police Department and the Traffic Engineering Department will be conducting the “Safe Routes to School Traffic Safety Operation” during the first week of the 2015/2016 school year beginning Tuesday, August 18, 2015 for the Waugh School District and St. Vincent Elementary.

All other Petaluma City Schools and St. Vincent DePaul campuses start on Wednesday, August 19, 2015. The operation will deploy additional police officers, community service officers, and volunteers in and around school zones within the City of Petaluma.

The purpose of this operation is to increase the level of traffic safety in and around the school zones through maximum traffic enforcement of hazardous traffic violations and through an aggressive education campaign to educate students and parents of the importance of traffic safety.

This is the 18th year of the Safe Routes to School operation, which creates safe routes for everyone to get to and from school.

Read more…

Sending full bail with plea no longer required (sort of)

Up until now, the rule was you have to send the full bail amount of your ticket when contesting either by mail or in person; they won’t talk to you unless you FIRST pay the full amount.

On June 8, 2015, the California Judicial Council (the people who make the rules for the courts) ruled unanimously that courts can no longer require full bail when people submit their not-guilty plea.  So, they are no longer allowed to make that requirement:

“The system is broken,” said Christine Sun, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. “It has become clear that we are funding our judicial system through unfair fines and fees that act as a hidden tax on poor people — who may not be able to afford contesting their citation — and people of color, who are disproportionately pulled over and cited. This has to stop, and we’re pleased that the Judicial Council is taking action.”

Interestingly, some Ticket Assassin members have been told by court clerks that the ruling doesn’t take effect until September 15.

As is often the case, the court clerks are full of shit.  From the Mercury News:  

The new ban on this practice takes effect immediately, though courts have until Sept. 15 to ensure their forms, written instructions and websites comply with notification requirements.”

From the Napa Valley Register:

The Judicial Council’s decision takes effect immediately, and also requires courts to notify traffic defendants that they don’t have to make the payments to appear in court in any instructions or other materials they provide to the public.

Courts are facing a deadline to update their forms. But court clerks are telling ticketed motorists members is that until the form is updated, the requirement is still there. Horseapples.  The requirement is no longer there, as of June 8 2015, per the California Judicial Council.

Bottom line:

You can pay the full bail if you want to avoid a fight. You’ll get the money back if you are found not guilty. Or, you can stand up for yourself and insist the court follow their own god damn rules. It’s up to you.

This goes away on September 15 – just five weeks from now. As such, the Ticket Assassin doesn’t want to die on this particular hill – he believes in picking his battles.

Good luck. Let us know what you do and how it turns out.


It’s perfectly legal to use the map on your phone while driving

This ruling on cell phone GPS was handed down in February of 2014:

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Drivers in California can legally read a map on their hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The 5th District Court of Appeal reversed the case of a Fresno man who was ticketed in January 2012 for looking at a map on his iPhone 4 while stuck in traffic. The driver, Steven Spriggs, challenged the $165 fine.

Like I said – it was handed down at the beginning of last year, but cops are still handing out tickets to people looking at the map on their phones. We get members every day who need to defend themselves against this bogus ticket.  RESIST.

The unholy intersection of Chicago politics and automated enforcement

Unbelievably scummy.

CHICAGO – A request by the city of Chicago to toss a lawsuit challenging the fairness and constitutionality of its controversial red light camera program was denied by a Cook County judge.

The lawsuit alleges the city has issued more than $500 million in tickets under a program that wasn’t properly authorized by state lawmakers, the Chicago Tribune reported. It also accuses the city of issuing millions of tickets when yellow light times were too short at intersections equipped with red light cameras.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration, which argues the city has acted lawfully, asked Circuit Judge Rita Novak to dismiss the most recent in a series of similar lawsuits.

But Novak ruled on Thursday that the motorists who have been ticketed deserve their day in court. Although she said she understands the city’s concerns about being “subject to the same claims over and over,” Novak denied the request because the plaintiffs named in this case are new.

That’s the backstory. Here’s the money quote from the article:

On Thursday, Keating argued in court that the yellow light times of “up to half of all red light camera tickets issued . were in fact below three seconds,” as a result of the way traffic lights are set. The city has argued that it’s not legally bound to the 3-second minimum listed in federal guidelines.

Install a red light camera at an intersection.  Shorten the yellow light times so that more motorists find themselves hitting red lights. Ignore the fact that these shortened yellow light times are below the Federal guidelines, which say yellow light times should be about one second for each mile per hour, divided by ten. Rake in the cash from motorists.  I guess that’s how it works in Chicago.


Columbus riased red light camera fees to pay for more police cars

Another nail in Redflex’s coffin. Or, at least, it should be. We shall see.

10 Investigates gets new documents showing profit drive of red light camera company

Lobbyist under FBI bribery investigation more involved than previously known

Columbus fought for additional ticket profit to buy more police cars.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – State lawmakers effectively banned Red light cameras this year. They believed the cameras were about making money for cities and companies through fines. Columbus city leaders including Mayor Michael Coleman and Council President Andrew Ginther defended the red light cameras for saving lives. Documents obtained by 10 Investigates show how there was a lot of focus on money.

When attempting to convince Columbus not to switch vendors in 2009, Redflex said the risk of dumping them was a “huge opportunity cost for (the) city to risk upsetting a well-run and profitable program.”

The city also fought to keep their share of the fine money high, saying they needed it to buy patrol cars and fund programs.

These people are the worst.



Bicycles, Rolling Stops, and the Idaho Stop

I would like to see the Idaho Stop become part of the California vehicle code.  Idaho has had such a law since 1982, resulting in a decrease in bicycle collisions with cars causing injuries or deaths, according to some studies.  Right now, we have restrictive bike laws that are rarely enforced, which creates a terribly unsafe and unfair situation for cyclists.

The fish rots from the head down


It’s no secret we think automated enforcement is illegal and a corrupt manifestation of government overreach. We’ve been banging that drum since we started the Ticket Assassin back in 1998. So, it’s nice to get some vindication:

Karen Finley, former CEO of the Phoenix-based Redflex Traffic Systems, pleaded guilty today in federal court to an eight-year bribery-and-fraud scheme that helped the company retain photo-enforcement contracts with two Ohio cities.

Finley, 55, of Cave Creek, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp of the Southern District of Ohio to a charge of “conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and honest services wire and mail fraud,” the U.S. Department of Justice announced this morning.

She obvious takeaway is that these red light camera ticket companies like Redflex are more corrupt than Florida Governor Rick Scott.

It’s the thought that counts

Don’t make fun of me for seeing this in Woman’s Day. It comes by way of a Google News Alert. Sheesh, you people.

Nobody wants to receive a speeding ticket, but Reddit user CapnHammered managed to turn the experience into a very cute, instantly viral moment.

The driver was ordered to pay a fine after driving 35mph in a 30mph zone in Lincolnshire in England. (He lives near Birmingham, but he was visiting his girlfriend in the area.) Since letter writing is such a lost art these days, he didn’t have many envelope options to send in the fine.

What did he end up using? A colorful Disney envelope with the characters of Bambi and Thumper on it. Aww! To go along with the cute theme, he made sure his penmanship was equally sweet, and he drew hearts on top of each letter i. Nice touch!


Red-light cameras extorting records amount of cash from Millbrae drivers

Gotta hand it to Millbrae. They found just the right corner on which to stick a red light camera. The vast majority of motorists are getting beaned for legal right turns after a stop.

In one month alone, red light cameras in Millbrae generated over 1,500 citations in it’s nine year history. Three intersections in Millbrae have red light cameras and all of them are on Millbrae Avenue.  One camera captures drivers exiting southbound Highway 101 and is the most prolific, giving out 595 citations in the month of June.  Most of the citations were given to drivers who made a rolling right turn. “She just stopped and then she took a right, like you would normally do, yeah a simple right turn,” Alex Quant’s said.  Mike Miranda showed ABC7 News an expensive ticket he got for over $400.

If you click through to the story, you can watch the video. The unfairness of the ticket is obvious from Miranda’s face.  (Despite the unfairness of his ticket, The Ticket Assassin predicts Miranda will remain in the 98% of people who do not contest).

Here’s one part of the story that stood out to me:

The majority of citations were issued for right turns, instead of running red lights.

Screenshot 2015-07-29 16.30.26

Red light cameras were sold to us as a check on drivers who blow through red lights. “Red light runners”, always with  descriptions of drivers flooring it on a yellow light to traverse straight through an intersection, often with descriptions of terrible T-bone accidents.  But that’s not what the “vast majority” of these tickets are actually for. The vast majority of right light camera tickets are for right turns after coming to a stop at the corner. I don’t think anybody would agree that is the same thing. I don’t think any rational, sane motorist would agree it’s as bad (or worse) as blowing straight through an intersection.

Congratulations, Millbrae! You got these cameras installed on a pretense of safety and are now soaking your citizens for technically-illegal but safe rolling-stops at the corner. Time to pop that champagne.

The story quoted our friend and “honorary” Ticket Assassin Jim Lissner at HighwayRobbery.Net:

According to statistics analyzed by HighwayRobber.Net, Millbrae had a record number of citations totaling 1,555 in June, which is more than any month since the cameras were installed in the city nine years ago. HighwayRobbery.Net is a blog that tracks red light cameras all over California and said about 90 percent of the citations are for turns mostly rolling rights, which are violations that cause the least number of collisions, but make the most amount of money in fines. “I personally think it’s legalized theft,” one man said.

At least one State Senator is fighting back against these Orwellian Cash Machines: California State Senator Jerry Hill.

Sen. Jerry Hill’s bill to reduce fines for rolling rights failed and said cities should not use the cameras to make money. “They look at every opportunity to increase revenue in situations where they’re not dangerous,” he said. The question is how much has the city made from the cameras and are there fewer collisions because of them.

That’s pretty easy. This intersection alone got 1,500 citations in June. The tickets issued are $400 a pop. That’s some fairly simple math.

If you live in Jerry Hill’s district, I recommend supporting his campaign. Visit California State Senator Jerry Hill’s campaign site.