Fight photo enforcement tickets

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate those tickets they send you in the mail because some camera somewhere caught me speeding in a zone or not stopping properly or making an illegal right turn.  Most of us assume the camera is right and the best we can hope for is to take a half day off from work in the hope of getting a reduced fine.  Since it doesn’t count against our insurance rates most of us justify just sending in the fine and moving on in life.

That is what “they” want you to do.  It is an easy revenue generator.  No fuss; no muss.  Well, I have a differentstory to tell!!  One of fighting…and winning!

I was driving south on I-5 in WA, just north of Centralia.  There is a speed zone there that drops the speed limit from 70 to 60 mph.  The camera caught me doing 72 in a 60 mph zone.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

I hate those things sooo much!!  I called my lawyer and asked how I could fight it.  They told me to write a letter to the district attorney asking for everything — was it radar or laser?  last calibration date?  where was the officer (actually ‘cadet’) issuing the ticket?  everything and anything I could think of.  They said that the D.A. usually doesn’t respond and when they don’t I could ask the judge to throw the case out.  What did I have to lose?

So I returned the ticket to the county court and asked for a trial.  The court is 1-1/2 hours drive from my home.  But I have business in the town…plus a burning desire to beat these ^%$#@s!!!!

I got to court early so I used my iPad to surf the internet for my particular crime against the state.  In reading the law I discovered two things.  First, any photo enforcement must also have signs prominently displayed notifying motorists that the area is photo enforced.  Second, any fine must be “consistent with parking fines for that locality”, or something to that effect.

So I went before the judge,had her readme the ticket, took the oath, and sat quietly in the chair while she read through the paperwork and got familiar with my case.  She then asked me to provide testimony.

I explained to her how I sent a letter to the DA requesting discovery.  She looked through the paperwork and said that I had sent the letter to the county clerk and the clerk does not respond to discovery.  I replied that I had sent a copy of the letter to the DA and that seemed to satisfy her because she shut up.  (Interestingly, I could not find the letter I had sent!  But I had sent it to both the DA and County Clerk.)

I then explained to the judge that the law requires signage and that I had just driven down from Seattle and saw nary a sign, even though I was on the lookout.  I concluded that the law provides a fine not to exceed the fine for a parking ticket customary for the area, and that surely a po-dunk county like Lewis County doesn’t issue $172 parking tickets!!  This is where it gets good.

The judge I think realized I had a watertight case.  She says “I will take it under advisement and get back with you by mail.”  What she was really telling everyone in the court is “We are pretty clueless on this stuff but we don’t want to admit it in front of you for fear you will fight your ticket too!”  So I walked outta there feeling pretty good about stuffing it back in their faces.

Sure enough, a couple weeks later I get a letter saying there was no fine.  There was no statute listing why it had been dismissed — only that I didn’t owe a fine.

People — do your homework.  Don’t roll over on this stuff.  I just saved us $172 and it took me about a half hour of my time!!

So they say you didn’t stop before making your turn?  Really?  Do they have video footage to prove that?  Or are they just assuming that because you stopped a few feet over the white line and the camera automatically snapped a photo that you must have run the light?

It is time we stop rolling over and letting this photo enforcement dictate our lives.  Fight back.  Get creative with your defense.  Think!!

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