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Using Speed Cameras To Send Tickets To Your Enemies 898

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 @03:32PM (#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.
  • Re:Predictable. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by similar_name ( 1164087 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:37PM (#26192999)
    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.
  • by 6Yankee ( 597075 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:43PM (#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 @03:44PM (#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?

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

    by IronChef ( 164482 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:44PM (#26193063)

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

  • by Fear the Clam ( 230933 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:44PM (#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 AlienIntelligence ( 1184493 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @03:48PM (#26193099)

    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

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

    So... Fail.


  • Re:In Sweden (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Proud like a god ( 656928 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:00PM (#26193195) Homepage

    Excepts identical twins, 3 occurrences per 1000 births...

  • by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:05PM (#26193227)

    I've heard the trick is to put the vehicle in a trust. Makes it a bit more difficult to enforce automated red light/speeding ticketing systems. YMMV and IANAL.

  • 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 @04:28PM (#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 Benjamin_Wright ( 1168679 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:40PM (#26193551) Homepage
    Texas private investigator legislation is causing problems for robo-cop traffic enforcement. A Texas judge said the company running a red-light camera was acting illegally because it did not have a private investigator license. On the basis of this ruling, motorists are challenging traffic tickets. The problem started when the legislature said computer forensics experts needed to be licensed like private eyes. See deails: [] --Ben
  • by mccoma ( 64578 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @04:48PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:01PM (#26193735)

    Yep. Epoxy cement + carbon black.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:01PM (#26193741)

    Karl Marx actually proposed a way improved form of democracy where the workers united in neighborhood committees will decide their own neighborhood policies, their city, their state, their country and the world's policies, all through direct debate and vote, with EVERYBODY being part of the decision and policy elaboration process.
    That is way much more democratic than we have anywhere in the world in the world these days, and specially in the US, where if you don't have a billion dollar to waste away you cannot run for president.
    So, forget a little bit about pr0n and WoW and go read, or at least google a bit, before you make pathetic loser jokes about things you don't know.

  • by wall0159 ( 881759 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:03PM (#26193769)
    Just to be a devil's advocate - if they're not generating profit, then people aren't running those lights, and the cameras aren't necessary...
  • by Bucc5062 ( 856482 ) <> on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:17PM (#26193921)

    Dude, I think you need to do two out of three options:

    1 - Drink at a party
    2 - get Laid
    3 - Smile

    I'm a positive guy, yet you got me looking at that glass and wondering if it even matters that the glass has anything in it.

    Then I realize that it is still half full of Vodka and I can still hope to party and smile (this is /., getting laid is less likely). I am sorry that this got moderated insightful, it should be +5 cynical.

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

    by Achromatic1978 ( 916097 ) < minus berry> on Sunday December 21, 2008 @05:28PM (#26194007)
    Well, as you described it, you're not at fault :)

    Typical procedure in Australia was that the fine went to the reg'd owner, who could either then pay or submit an affidavit saying "X was driving". You can't just say "Someone else was driving". You can get access to the photos used, but they absolutely can and will pull your license and registration until there's some form of 'retribution'.

  • by RealEditer ( 1436481 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @06:32PM (#26194609)
    Someone here in Texas is suing [] a couple of red-light camera operators, saying that they don't have private investigator licenses and thus don't have legal right to gather information for prosecutions. So far he's gotten one judge to agree.
  • by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @06:52PM (#26194741)

    Traffic police in England also have handheld PDA-type devices that they can type a numberplate into and retrieve the driving license details of the registered driver (including photo). If they pull you over and you have false plates your details won't match those of the legitimate registered owner and you'll be in trouble.

  • In the UK, you get the letter plus a URL to the picture.

    My friend had a letter and swore blind it was him until we viewed the image. He was 100% guilty.
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @07:31PM (#26195041) Homepage Journal

    I'm talking about the studies that have compared the effectiveness of adding red light cameras versus making the yellow light longer. There have been several studies on that, and they have all consistently and conclusively stated that increasing the yellow cycle is more effective. Sorry, guess I should have been more precise in qualifying the word "every". I just assumed it was obvious from the context.

  • by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @07:37PM (#26195093)

    ah, but you just say you're his brother and you're fine.. assuming you have insurance to drive that vehicle...

    the UK police's PDA things (ANPR - Automated Number Plate Recognition) is also tied into an insurance database and the Police National Computer, so if you have no insurance, they'll pull you over, and if you're a criminal, you won't have MOT either, and will probably have enough other reasons for you to be arrested. Criminals don't obey driving laws too - who'd have thought!

    Traffic cops are one of the most effective means of law enforcement.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @07:40PM (#26195121)

    We don't have speed cameras here, but that's how our red light cameras work. They've done a significant job of reducing the serious T-bone collisions. Admittedly rear ending is up a bit, but you have to draw a line somewhere and if people wouldn't tale gate it wouldn't be an issue and T-bones tend to be more dangerous than rear ending in modern cars..

    The fine itself doesn't count as a moving violation for precisely that reason.

    It's been a pretty popular program and we'll be expanding our system to the next couple of bad locations. We won't ever have them every where, but it does seem to be working for its intended purpose.

  • by arminw ( 717974 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @08:10PM (#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.

  • Just swap cars! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShatteredArm ( 1123533 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @08:23PM (#26195419)

    Here in Arizona, we have a little trick that works quite well. You just drive a car that is registered to someone else. They can't ticket you because they don't know who you are, and the person to whom the car is registered is not liable because he is not the one who broke the law. My younger brother has gotten out of two tickets already by driving the parents' car. So, if you have a family member or friend whom you trust, just swap cars and ignore cameras to your heart's intent.

    The other option you have is to just challenge every ticket that they send you. They have lawyers here who chargea flat $35 and basically take you through the process of challenging a ticket. It's really easy to get off, because by the time it's all said and done, it costs them more to get a judge to force you to pay it than the ticket is actually worth.

  • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @10:28PM (#26196241) Homepage

    Unless of course I missed the part where people don't get to vote, must work at a state owned business and are not allowed to make most of the important decisions in their day to day life.

    I see you accept the US government official definition of "free country", with the cold war era anti-red addendum and everything. Voting is meaningless if only a small range of "mainstream" candidates have a chance. Free enterprise only matters when the market isn't rigged.

    Ask yourself this: Is China a free country? What *practical* freedoms do Americans have that someone in China does not? There are some examples, and those are important, but there are less than you might think.

    It's specious to say that we're less free because the federal government got those rights rather than the state government. One can still leave the nation if one chooses and if enough people become unhappy with the nation, they can still secede, I'm not sure where in the constitution the right to secede was.

    You touch upon the counter argument to your first sentence in your second. How many people does it take to make a policy change in a US state? At the federal level? Even organizations the size of the NRA and the Sierra club manage to accomplish surprisingly little at the federal level. Moving a policy from the states to the federal government results in a very practical decrease in the democratic control of that policy.

    This is just one of those whack job libertarian ideas that because I can't Jay walk or use drugs that suddenly I'm some sort of a slave.

    There's nothing "whack job" about libertarian ideas. Like any ideas, it's reasonable to disagree with them once you clearly understand them (and, necessarily, their historical and philosophical background), but simply dismissing them as crazy marks you as willfully ignorant. And there's nothing worse than being willfully ignorant (and proudly admitting to it).

  • by cynical kane ( 730682 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @10:49PM (#26196375)

    Actually, Karl Marx hated democracy. He feared the greatest threat to the communist revolution was socialist democracy, which would forever lock the proletariat into an inferior system where they are placated by votes.

    What Karl Marx promoted wasn't democracy, it was fantasy fairy-land government where everyone is happy and agreeable and gets a pony. The sort of society that only a madman can believe in. This sociopathic hatred and denial of actual human nature led to the greatest crimes against humanity that history has ever known.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Sunday December 21, 2008 @11:24PM (#26196535)

    It's just a variant of the corporate ownership maze of holding companies, and I think it would work in most situations.

    You form a low-level business entity ("Slashdot Consulting") and sell the vehicle to the business entity. Since the vehicle is not owned by a person but is instead owned by a business entity, it may, in some states, reduce the actual owner's exposure to the tickets, especially if they want to impose driving points, etc, since there's no "owner" to nail for infractions against a person. It probably wouldn't eliminate the monetary penalty, but who knows, but some of these automated systems may not impose the fine if there's no "person" to obviously go after.

    In Minneapolis the city started to do red light cameras which fined the owner of the vehicle, even if they could prove they weren't in the car, and it was a petty misdemeanor not just some civil infraction. It was thrown out largely on a technicality (it violated the uniformity of traffic laws statewide), but the state supreme court did find that it also violated due process since it created a presumption of guilt and required the owner to prove they weren't driving and that someone else was driving.

    I think that a business-entity shell holding ownership of your car would probably help in these situations, since there's no way to ticket a business entity.

    I think the whole concept is bad. Minneapolis' cameras were actually owned and operated by a third party which got a cut of the revenue from the tickets (It was overturned in a year and the city refunded 2.6 million dollars in fines). The notion that the state will empower private parties to perform criminal enforcement for profit strikes me as a little too scary.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday December 22, 2008 @12:43AM (#26196973)
    In the UK some are taking tires, hanging them on the speed cameras, filling the inside with gasoline, and lighting it. The gasoline burns long enough to get the tire burning, and as the tire burns, the steel belts keep it from burning itself off of the camera housing before it's been there for a considerable amount of time.

    I wouldn't advocate doing this with tires that you bought new if you registered the warranty on them, but tires on wheels can sometimes be bought for $8.00 on half-price day at the junk yard, and dismounting them isn't that difficult if they're not those low-profile or large rim types. I'd imagine that you'd put the gasoline into the tire while it's on the ground, then lift it up and on, then toss a match or two into it.

    Not that I'd advocate such a simple, destructive, and highly self-contained method of destroying speed cameras, but here are some results: []
  • by Androclese ( 627848 ) on Monday December 22, 2008 @11:44AM (#26200921)
    heh.. I'm reminded of a favorite quote of mine...

    "Those who have read Marx are Communists... Those who understand Marx are Capitalists"
  • by hanabal ( 717731 ) on Monday December 22, 2008 @02:09PM (#26203155)
    If its an enevitable ending then why are there a number of socialist states that are not at all under threat of becoming communist. And your premise that under a socialist state, "I have no reason to work harder" is completely false. Yes the state will take care of me if I choose not to work. But if I want a Big TV, travel the world, have a champange dinner, etc etc, then I need to get a job to improve my lot. Socialism is not Communism.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas