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Using Speed Cameras To Send Tickets To Your Enemies 898

Posted by kdawson
from the ticket-me-elmo dept.
High school students in Maryland are using speed cameras to get back at their perceived enemies, and even teachers. The students duplicate the victim's license plate on glossy paper using a laser printer, tape it over their own plate, then speed past a newly installed speed camera. The victim gets a $40 ticket in the mail days later, without any humans ever having been involved in the ticketing process. A blog dedicated to driving and politics adds that a similar, if darker, practice has taken hold in England, where bad guys cruise the streets looking for a car similar to their own. They then duplicate its plates in a more durable form, and thereafter drive around with little fear of trouble from the police.
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Using Speed Cameras To Send Tickets To Your Enemies

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  • by similar_name (1164087) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:32PM (#26192955)
    I've often thought if I got one of these tickets I would take it to court and ask for the right to see my accuser.
    • by Emnar (116467) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:40PM (#26193027)

      The legislators have thought of that. It's an infraction, rather than a misdemeanor, so it's an administrative fine -- it goes on your driving record, but not your criminal record.

      Because it's a criminal charge, you aren't given the right to face your accuser.

      It's a perversion of justice for the profit of the state, but right now the judges let it pass constitutional muster.

      • by Fear the Clam (230933) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:44PM (#26193071)

        It's a perversion of justice for the profit of the state, but right now the judges let it pass constitutional muster.

        That's just because nobody bothered to do the the same trick with the correct government or state official plates.

        • by spottedkangaroo (451692) * on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:11PM (#26193285) Homepage

          sounds like a dare

          • by Pichu0102 (916292) <pichu0102@gmail.com> on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:13PM (#26193305) Homepage Journal

            sounds like a dare

            I don't think anyone's really stupid enough to piss off someone who has the ability to ruin your life, or, if they're really corrupt, make you disappear.

            • by bledri (1283728) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:28PM (#26193433)

              I don't think anyone's really stupid enough to ...

              Henry Mencken disagrees:
              "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." -- Henry Mencken

              I know, he was talking about profit, but I think the sentiment applies more broadly.

            • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:30PM (#26193447) Homepage

              If you live in that much fear of government officials, then you have bigger problems than speed cameras. In a free society, the fear, if any, goes the other way.

              • by wickerprints (1094741) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:44PM (#26193577)

                Tell that to the US citizens who were served National Security Letters under the auspices of the PATRIOT Act. Oh wait, you can't, because those people are legally prohibited from disclosure, so there's no way to identify who they are.

                The problem, of course, is not the validity of your statement. It's absolutely correct. But as we can clearly see, there really isn't such a thing as a truly free society, only those that call themselves "free."

              • by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:26PM (#26193995) Journal

                If you live in that much fear of government officials, then you have bigger problems than speed cameras. In a free society, the fear, if any, goes the other way.

                Hell, It's not like some sick government Fsck could have you kidnapped right of the street and have you taken to a middle-eastern country to be tortured, in spite of the fact you were perfectly innocent...

                I'm sorry, excuse me for just a moment... Oh, really?... Hmmmm...

                Never mind.

              • Tell me if you spot one of these "free societies."

                America hasn't been one for about 150 years, and the decay has been getting worse for the last 60 or so.

            • You don't? You really don't think anyone is that stupid? You sure have a lot higher opinion of people than I do.

              You just gotta have a huge set of grapefruits.
      • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:49PM (#26193107) Homepage

        The legislators have thought of that. It's an infraction, rather than a misdemeanor, so it's an administrative fine -- it goes on your driving record, but not your criminal record.

        I don't know about where you are, but in Ohio automatic speed camera fines do not go on your driving record.

      • by NormalVisual (565491) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:30PM (#26194593)
        The legislators have thought of that. It's an infraction, rather than a misdemeanor, so it's an administrative fine

        That's the situation here in Orlando - the city recently passed an ordinance authorizing camera enforcement at six intersections in the area, but they know there's not a chance in hell it would actually stand up in court so they take the civil route in an attempt to avoid the courts altogether. I'm hoping the state hands their ass to them, though - Florida state law specifically forbids localities to enact traffic ordinances that deal with situations already covered under state law unless they have a special authorization from the state legislature, and the state hasn't given them one. So far, everyone that's had a ticket written has tried to contest the ticket (good luck arguing with a code enforcement officer) instead of arguing the legality of the ordinance itself, which has made me consider going to one of the intersections at 3am or so, stopping at the light, and then deliberately running it when the intersection is safely clear. I'd of course expect to get a ticket for it, which then would give me standing to do all kinds of things.

        Additionally, Florida has very specific rules about how the revenues from traffic enforcement are to be allocated, and after some somewhat heated discussions with city officials, I've been able to determine that Orlando's portion of the take stays in the city while the rest goes directly to LaserCraft, Inc. (the camera vendor/operator), and the state doesn't see a dime of it. I'm still waiting for a copy of the city's contract to get some hard numbers. I'm thinking the money angle will probably be more apt to get the state involved than the apparently minor fact that the city is breaking state law.
      • by arminw (717974) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @07:10PM (#26195337)

        ...It's a perversion of justice...

        No it is not, but just an extra road tax. Justice isn't involved in any way shape or form. If it a speeding ticket, you basically get taxed extra for the privilege or fun of driving fast.

    • In Arizona, all tickets are reviewed by
      the police or local municipality of which
      the ticket was issued.

      ie, if the car doesn't match the ticket,
      no ticket gets sent. If the driver is
      one sex and the vehicle is registered
      to the opposite sex, a notice is sent,
      not a ticket. I can drive my wife's
      vehicle and speed all I want, she gets
      a notice that says, "Do you know this
      person".

      I can't see any instance where this would
      work except same vehicle, same sex driving.

      So... Fail.

      -AI

      • by mccoma (64578) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:48PM (#26193607)
        Well, I wouldn't be too trusting of those reviews. I was told Illinois also reviews tickets on their toll roads and they made the following errors when trying to ticket me:
        1. Misidentified the state the plate was issued from
        2. vehicle on photo was white, my car is black
        3. vehicle on photo is a semi truck, my car is a chevy cavalier
    • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:53PM (#26193143)

      "I've often thought if I got one of these tickets I would take it to court and ask for the right to see my accuser."

      Print your tag using this link, along with some random tags from your area.
      I found out about it when my co-workers pranked me by placing a "MAN SEX" fake over the plate on my tow truck...
      Funny thing is that I towed several cars that weekend right past police without knowing about the plate (which is near my lightbar so I don't look at it).

      Enjoy:
      http://license.plates.txt2pic.com/ [txt2pic.com]

  • by Aranykai (1053846) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (resnogls)> on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:33PM (#26192969)

    Duplicate plates? When I was in school, we used to actually swap the plates themselves lol.

    Kids and technology these days.

  • Predictable. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spazdor (902907) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:35PM (#26192977)

    This is the inevitable result of the 'panopticon' model of legal harmony. A car does not positively identify a person, nor does a license plate or a blurry photo.

    The authorities can cast a wider net by being lazy, but this is the real reason we shouldn't tolerate it: it's almost laughably exploitable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by similar_name (1164087)
      I work for an auto auction. We get about a dozen red light tickets a day for cars that passed through but we never owned. We throw them all away.
    • Re:Predictable. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:41PM (#26193035) Journal
      And teh best way for us to not tolerate it, is to exploit it to laughable extremes. Have everyone copy the license plate of Governor Martin O'Malley and let him get multiple speeding tickets in different parts of his state at the same time, the law will change much faster that way as compared to waiting for the legislature to actually give a shit about bad law.
    • Re:Predictable. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by IronChef (164482) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:44PM (#26193063)

      The legal system needs to employ a few game designers to help them avoid such obvious griefing opportunities.

      • Re:Predictable. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Rogerborg (306625) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:12PM (#26193299) Homepage

        The legal system needs to employ a few game hackers, the guys that exploit all the loopholes that the designers "didn't have time" to design out, apparently because it's cheaper to save 5 minutes at the start of the project no matter how many hundreds or thousands of hours of work it costs you long term, not to mention the cost in lost business due to your game getty a crappy rep for being exploitable to help them avoid such obvious griefing opportunities.

        There, fixed that for you. You employ the guy that wrote WOWGlider, not the doofus who designed trust into the client in the first place.

  • by Mononoke (88668) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:36PM (#26192987) Homepage Journal

    Andrews also said that this could hurt the integrity of the Speed Camera Program. "It will cause potential problems for the Speed Camera Program in terms of the confidence in it," he said.

    If we're lucky.

  • by matt4077 (581118) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:37PM (#26192997) Homepage
    ...when they usually pay through the nose or get jailtime for counterfeiting an official document (which a license plate is).

    It's interesting though that penalties are apparently tied to the car in the us, not the driver. I still remember the police showing up regularly at the door showing me a (usually bad) picture of my father and asking if I knew the person. Thank god^M^M^M the constitution for family privilege.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bledri (1283728)

      ...when they usually pay through the nose or get jailtime for counterfeiting an official document (which a license plate is).

      I was thinking the same thing. I'm not a fan of universal ID's and the like, but I am a fan of really strong penalties for impersonating some one else. It seems like that would apply to a lot of things: Voter fraud, credit theft, privacy violations. Maybe this is already the case and it just isn't a deterrent.

      BTW - I think you meant ^H (BS), not ^M (CR).

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Look, I know you're trying to act all cool with your tech shit but Ctrl-M? LOL

      Shut your mouth, real geeks are talking.

  • yeah great idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:38PM (#26193003) Journal
    Wow, so you personally commit fraud and forgery to get your "enemy" a $40 speeding ticket?

    sounds like a great idea until the first time a cop is on scene to pull you over.

    I hope those kids like jail time!
    • by otter42 (190544) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:08PM (#26193257) Homepage Journal

      Wow, so you personally commit fraud and forgery to get your "enemy" a $40 speeding ticket?

      sounds like a great idea until the first time a cop is on scene to pull you over.

      I hope those kids like jail time!

      You're serious??? You would give kids jail time for an administrative prank? For $40? That's sick. Just plain sick. With these kinds of opinions, no wonder we have these kinds of laws.

      America would be a better place if we stopped trying to 0wn people in real life, instead of just video games and movies. There is such a thing as partial victories and conditional surrenders.

      • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:19PM (#26193351)
        You're serious??? You would give kids jail time for an administrative prank?

        When does it stop being a prank? 2nd time? 10th time?
        • by otter42 (190544) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:24PM (#26193399) Homepage Journal

          Never. It's always a prank. If you want to argue that after getting caught ten times and clearly refusing to mend your ways that you should face some stiffer penalties, I couldn't agree more. That doesn't change that putting someone in jail for an administrative prank is wrong. And the knee jerk reaction to *want* that is perverted.

          Here's a solution: why not take away their driver's license? That would have the same effect on stopping the abuse, while ratcheting up the pressure (getting caught driving with a suspended license is far more serious) all without the slightest risk of permanently scars.

      • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:47PM (#26193603)

        You're serious??? You would give kids jail time for an administrative prank? For $40? That's sick. Just plain sick. With these kinds of opinions, no wonder we have these kinds of laws.

        Costing someone a $40 ticket goes way beyond a "prank". A prank is a practical joke you pull on your friends, and you all laugh about it afterward. This is economic vandalism.

        Jail time would be unlikely (hell, you can steal a car and not get jail time if you're a first offender), but I'd certainly advocate some sort of required community service. Maybe 16 hours of picking up trash alongside a road will encourage someone to think a bit more about the consequences of bad choices. We can get creative in the sentencing too. [rockymountainnews.com]

    • by daigu (111684) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:19PM (#26193357) Journal

      Putting the fakes on, driving through a light that just turned red, pulling off on a side road and removing the plates should take no more than 5 or 10 minutes. The chances of a cop pulling you over in that amount of time is close to nil.

      I agree it would be monumentally stupid to drive around with the fake covering on, but then again, anyone smart enough to want to do this in the first place isn't going to do that for exactly that reason.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:41PM (#26193031)

    ...they could create a website listing the make, model and licenses of cars belonging to police and other public officials; with convenient license plate templates or maybe a PDF license plate generator. Don't host it the US or UK though.

    But that would be wrong.

  • Dinsdale? (Score:3, Funny)

    by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:43PM (#26193055)

    A blog dedicated to driving and politics adds that a similar, if darker, practice has taken hold in England, where bad guys cruise the streets looking for a car similar to their own. They then duplicate its plates in a more durable form, and thereafter drive around with little fear of trouble from the police.

    The Monty Python folks referred to this as, "the other, other operation."

    Profit?

    Driving and politics . . . sounds like a deadly mix to me.

  • by 6Yankee (597075) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:43PM (#26193057)
    Looks like a few public officials need to have their plates "cloned" in this way. The only way for them to see the idiocy of this sytesm is for them to be clubbed repeatedly around the head with it.
  • by alvinrod (889928) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:44PM (#26193061)

    I have no idea whether or not this information is actually accurate, but I found it interesting none-the-less.

    While watching an episode of Top Gear where Jeremy Clarkson was in Japan driving a car, he mentioned that photographs taken by speed cameras were only valid if your face could be identified from the picture. He had a paper cutout of another person's face that he would hold over his own whenever passing by a camera so that he could not be given a ticket.

    I'm sure that this was mostly for comedic effect, but if true, doesn't something like this make speed cameras completely pointless?

    I've also read a few stories where those who especially hate speed cameras will obscure its vision in some manner so that it cannot take accurate pictures or any pictures at all. Assuming that the rate of this mischief is high enough and there are enough other methods available to circumvent the accuracy of these cameras, is it really worthwhile to use them?

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:48PM (#26193103)
    Clearly no one has ever faked ID, given someone else's address for something, used their bank details or even just put on a wig and pretended to be someone else!

    This entirely new type of crime can only come about because of speed cameras! If we didn't try to punish people breaking the law this kind of thing would never happen!

  • by otter42 (190544) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:01PM (#26193207) Homepage Journal

    This just shows again the problems with applying a digital measure to our analog world. Speeding is by no means a crime. A crime implies harm, and having an instantaneous velocity over a certain point on a road hardly qualifies as a crime. Here we have a case of the computer being judge, jury, and executioner. This means that gone are the *very* valid justification that "that's the speed limit because driving any slower was dangerous."

    Before, real-life situations could trump an engineer's arbitrary classification of a road. Which is good, because in real life, the situation *is* more important than the simulation. Now, instead of a judge who makes an informed decision that can be understood and formally disagreed with, we have a contractor, who is completely removed from the job. No one to get mad at, and, most importantly, no one to feel guilty. Every person in the chain has no responsibility and no reason to feel bad.

    No matter the efficiency advantages of doing otherwise, every penalty applied to a human should be applied by a human.

  • by rta (559125) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:20PM (#26193363)

    The real problem, imho, is that speed limits are artificially low. In the US anyway, the only reason to follow the speed limit is to avoid fines. The numbers are unnecessarily conservative for most driving.

    In fact, i can drive past a cop at the speed limit in the rain and not get a ticket though clearly I have a much lower margin of safety going 65 in the rain than I do going 65 on dry pavement.

    Similarly, one is allowed to go the same speed at night as during the day even though visibility is definitely impaired.

    (Yes, I know the limit is set as an upper limit and that cops can ticket you for going an unsafe speed for the conditions, etc, etc. but in practice it doesn't happen for up to moderate levels of inclement levels. And in fog or a downpour or blizzard, well most people slow down well below the speed limit anyway.)

    I do like the "advised speed" that's attached to signs signaling curves ahead. That actually provides useful information about the road rather than info about the revenue generation and/or paranoia of the local residents.

  • by AcidPenguin9873 (911493) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:31PM (#26193459)
    Get ready for mandatory RFID license plates, and all the privacy and security problems that come with them.
  • by The Wooden Badger (540258) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:07PM (#26193811) Homepage Journal

    Be excellent to each other.

  • by Terje Mathisen (128806) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:48PM (#26194209)

    Here in Norway (nearly?) all speed trap cameras use roadbed sensors which detect each vehicle axle as the car/truck passes over it.

    There are two such sensors a few meters apart, and the speed trap logic will calculate both the speed the car must have had between the two sensors, and the distance between the vehicle axles.

    The gear is supposedly sensitive/accurate enough that the axle distance can be measured within a cm or so.

    This still leaves a lot of possible car models, but it is used as a first-order check of the license plate OCR sw.

    When the ticket is mailed to the (assumed) owner of the car, it includes a copy of the photo, so the owner can verify that it is indeed the correct car and driver.

    Terje

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