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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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  • In Sweden (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:37PM (#26192993)

    the cameras send the picture to an office where the clerks look at the registered drivers license face photo to see if it corresponds with the face of the guy on the photo.

    This is not failsafe of course, since you can always take your wifes car and drive past the cameras in high speed, or a rental car, or wear a mask - but at least you get no false positives.

  • 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.
  • 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 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 similar_name (1164087) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @02:55PM (#26193155)
    Since the cameras are generally owned by companies and not the local authorities, I think they only thing they can do is put it on your credit report.
    Where I am, they recently took down some red light cameras because they were not generating enough revenue for the company and the city didn't want to pay for them. It has nothing to do with law and everything to do with profit.
  • 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 dangitman (862676) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:42PM (#26193557)

    Did you read your own link? It described the type of word as "Nonstandard", and goes on to say:

    Irregardless is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing. Coined in the United States in the early 20th century, it has met with a blizzard of condemnation for being an improper yoking of irrespective and regardless and for the logical absurdity of combining the negative ir- prefix and -less suffix in a single term.

    So, yes, there are plenty of things wrong with that word.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:43PM (#26193573)

    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.

    Rubbish. A crime means that there's a law against it - no more, no less.

  • by PReDiToR (687141) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:48PM (#26193609) Homepage Journal
    Replying here because it should be up at the top. Sorry.

    In the UK we have cameras that face towards you, taking a picture of the driver that will be used as evidence if you say "I wasn't driving".

    Take advantage of this while you can.
  • by dgatwood (11270) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:03PM (#26193779) Journal

    I haven't seen a city in California whose times aren't already unsafely short. You can't tell me that a two second yellow is EVER safe, yet I've seen them that short in Sunnyvale, and many, many intersections at only three. And I've seen three seconds with zero all-red seconds for lights that allow left turns across five lanes of traffic. If you enter at the speed limit as it turns yellow, you will be in the intersection for at least two seconds while the light is green in the other direction. I can count at least a dozen lights between Fair Oaks and Sunnyvale roads alone that are dangerous, and those aren't even the intersections with cameras....

    The other dirty thing they do to try to anger drivers and make them run red lights is to time the lights so you hit every second light red reproducibly. Again, the two major roads through Sunnyvale are timed in this way for the vast majority of the day. Not only does it increase the rate of road rage significantly, it encourages people to exceed the speed limit to beat the lights, encourages people to run the lights when they change to red right in front of them, and likely wastes millions of gallons of gasoline every year in California alone, all so they can raise a little more red light revenue at a few intersections....

    IMHO, we need a California-wide ballot measure to demand citizen oversight committees be in charge of all traffic light management. That's the only way the abuse will stop. And red light cameras are abuse. Every study of red light cameras has shown that increasing the length of yellow lights to a minimum of seven seconds has the same benefits in terms of sideswipe accident reduction without the increased rate of rear end collisions, without wasting tons of fuel, without causing road rage, etc. Unfortunately, the people in power are not about to admit that they were wrong, so the only way to fix the problem is to wrest control away form them through a referendum.

    At least speed cameras are illegal in California. We got one right, anyway. It's a good thing, too. There's a radar sign on Highway 17 that routinely overestimates the speed of oncoming traffic by up to 15 MPH. If such a device were handing out speeding tickets, I'd have a thousand of them, all while going the speed limit, all with a confused look on my face staring at the completely incorrect speed on the sign....

  • Re:Predictable. (Score:3, Informative)

    by similar_name (1164087) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:19PM (#26193927)
    Simple, the car is registered to a car dealer. The car dealer gets the notice then replies they sold it at our auction. They send us the notice and due to confidentiality agreements we tell them we can't give them the information for who bought it without a legal order to do so. They respond with more notices. They are just a collection agency nothing more. We get tickets from around the country, we've been shredding them for about a year now. Some are for speeding, some for toll violations, some for red light tickets, some for parking violations.

    remind me never to buy from there

    Don't worry, you can't, we are a wholesale only auction, you'll never know if your car passed through us and you'd never get a ticket anyway as the process hits a dead end.

  • 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

  • by dangitman (862676) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:56PM (#26194285)
    With those systems (not sure about the UK) you usually don't have to go to court. You can write a letter, or fill in a form that comes with the ticket, stating your argument. Only if that is not accepted, do you go to court.
  • by VJ42 (860241) * on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:12PM (#26194435)
    The english language is full of problematic and nonsensical words and phrases; that doesn't make them any less valid. For example, I've noticed Americans seem to use "could care less" instead of "couldn't care less" (used here in the UK), but despite not having seen nor heard the American phrase before visiting slashdot I understood the meaning immediately due to the context. The same goes for the word "irregardless", we understand the meaning from the context, I do it with Americanisms in every other post, and I'm sure you do it it Brit-speak as well. Besides I sure ain't gonna stop using common words just so I sound proper...;p
  • 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 tabrisnet (722816) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:41PM (#26194683)
    Wrong idea, right time. The Civil War (and the resulting amendments):
    1. removed states right to secede (it was supposed to be legal, iirc), and other states rights as well.
    2. extended applicability of federal law to states and state actions.
  • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:45PM (#26194699)

    Fill them with birdshot and you'd have a Glaser Safety paintball. No ricochets and quite an impact.

  • by mr_stinky_britches (926212) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @06:14PM (#26194893) Homepage Journal

    Every study of red light cameras has shown that increasing the length of yellow lights to a minimum of seven seconds has the same benefits in terms of sideswipe accident reduction without the increased rate of rear end collisions, without wasting tons of fuel, without causing road rage, etc. Unfortunately, the people in power are not about to admit that they were wrong, so the only way to fix the problem is to wrest control away form them through a referendum.

    Got any links to these studies? I googled "red light camera study" and found a recent news article [go.com] which makes some interesting claims:

    The study was conducted by the state, and surveyed red light cameras specifically for intersections in communities throughout Texas. A lot of those are right here in Houston. The results, according to this study, show that red light cameras appear to work.

    ..and the latest research from the Texas Transportation Institute supports that. In the state wide study, right angle crashes declined by 43% after installation of red light cameras. Although rear end crashes increased slightly by 5%, the overall decrease was 30%.

    Ah, well here we go. Here [thenewspaper.com] is a page that has a collection of 10 or so studies which seem to suppport your claim.

    Hopefully this information will be of use to the typically [in my experience] ungrateful /. crowd.

  • Re:yeah great idea. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pinckney (1098477) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @07:00PM (#26195271)
    It is not a prank if it costs me money. It is not a prank when it is malicious. I wouldn't argue for jail time, but they certainly should be charged criminally for it.
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @10:39PM (#26196619)
    In the U.S., we have these things called local governments. In most states they are called townships. You know the funny thing about them, even though one person can make a huge difference by getting involved at this level, very few people even know who their township Supervisors are. Most people would be hard pressed to tell you where the township Supervisors meet.

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

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