Letter to the Editor: Red-light cameras violate basic rights

I am in receipt of a Civil Violation Notice which indicates that a vehicle registered to me passed a red light recently at the intersection of Rt. 13 and Webbs Lane in the city of Dover.

Upon examination of both the still photos and video, my vehicle did in fact enter the intersection nine-tenths of a second after the signal had turned red.

A penalty has been assessed at $137.50 plus $46 court costs if I wish to appeal.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that in my 35 years as a police officer I never issued a citation for such a borderline violation. And, I submit that no reasonable police officer having witnessed this egregious violation would have done so either.

I see major problems with red light camera enforcement. A violation like mine which lasted nine-tenths of a second brings a new meaning to borderline!

Are violations committed within eight-tenths to one-tenths of a second subject to a fine? I question whether a device that assesses violations for less than one second ever has to be calibrated and or certified? Speed measuring devices such as radar used by the police must be.

Reasonable traffic enforcement requires or should require the officer to exercise discretion. Such discretion should take into account all of circumstances which existed at the time. Does the motorist have a reasonable explanation for the act? Was the act the “lesser of two evils” a provision recognized in American law?

Absent a conversation with the enforcing officer to perhaps explain or negate the violation prevents the motorist from benefiting from a most basic constitutional right — the right to confront his accuser.

In this case the “accuser” never actually observed the violation. He merely saw the photos then perhaps the video and rubber stamped the form. I am not aware of any indication that his observations and conclusions have been affirmed under penalty of perjury, which would normally be required for traffic offenses.

Your readers must remember that there is good reason that red light violations camera violations are “civil” and not ‘criminal” in nature. The standard of proof for civil violations is “more likely than not” a criminal case requires “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” It also allows for a trial by jury or a judge. These violations would never fly in a normal court which is why they are “civil”.

Is this a method for the Delaware Department of Transportation to extract money from motorists without adequate “due process”?

I fear that we live in an atmosphere which under the guise of “traffic safety” weakens our constitutional rights!

W. D. Kober

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