Donal's picture

    Your ticket, sir

    For an example of profits trumping fair traffic policing, The Consumerist blog cited a Canadian Yahoo article, Cellphone ticket baffles senior with no phone:

    A Winnipeg couple is shaking their heads, wondering why they got a ticket for talking on a cellphone while driving — when they don't own a cellphone.

    Laszlo Piszker and his wife, Margaret, were pulled over by two city police officers in the 2500 block of Portage Avenue on Friday.

    Piszker was handed a $199.80 ticket, even after he urged the officers to search him and the car for any sign of a cellphone.

    "I told them, 'Do whatever it takes. There's no phone in here; never has been. I don't know anything about the phone.' But they won't have it," ...

    Immediately after getting the ticket, the couple went to a nearby police station to complain.

    Piszker said the officer there laughed and suggested the ticket was likely issued to fill a quota.

    Very funny I'm sure, but it reminded me of a local WBAL news blurb from a few weeks ago about Safe Speed cameras in work zones. Drivers had been complaining to their representatives that the reduced speed is in effect 24 x 7, even though construction is sporadic. Lawmakers admitted the complaints had merit, but in a rare display of frankness, said they needed the revenue anyway.

    Now I read that a Republican State Senator introduced an amendment to limit work zone cameras to work hours, but that it has been rejected. In a bit of a turnabout, it seems to be Republicans that oppose this particular manifestation of privatized government, and Democrats that favor it.

    Senators Reject Amendment To Speed Camera Bill

    The Maryland Senate has narrowly rejected an amendment that would ... have mandated that speed cameras need not be used in construction zones when no one is working.

    Opponents of the amendment argued that the cameras, which were legalized statewide in 2009, are necessary even when workers are not present because narrowed lanes and adjustments to traffic flow make roads dangerous.

    I regularly pass through some of these work zones at 3, 4 or 5 AM on Saturday mornings, on my way to PA. In my experience lanes are not necessarily narrowed and traffic is not always adjusted. Often the work is well off the roadway and the only equipment that protrudes is the radar display.

    Instead of limiting tickets, Senate Bill 486 and House Bill 944 will give Safe Speed employees the power to issue tickets without police review. Allowing private contractors to issue tickets is bad enough, but House Bill 1030 is pending to allow a Master, an appointed attorney paid by Safe Speed, to substitute for a judge in adjudicating any ticket challenges.

    And there are errors galore in photo enforcement. Photo tickets cite lower speed limits than posted, photo tickets claim illegal right turns where they are perfectly legal, and photo tickets cite parked cars for speeding.

    I'm going to ride my bike tonight.


    In New York it's illegal to take up more than one subway seat or to fall asleep on the subway and you can be ticketed for either.  Both these laws make some sense.  It's not safe to sleep on the subway (a lot of muggings happen that way) and it's rude to take up more than one seat while others are standing.

    But, because of the way the laws are written, if you recline in a bank of seats in an empty train car, you can get a ticket.  If you sit on the stairwell of an empty train station, you can also get a ticket for obstructing foot traffic.  Every few months there's an outrageous story about somebody getting a ticket on an empty train car or some pregnant woman ticketed for sitting on the steps of the station during a low volume time.

    Obviously, the laws could be clarified, or the enforcement rules could be, so that people are only ticketed for doing these things during busy times.  The solutions are simple and easy to implement.  So these issues are purposefully not solved.  The city likes the ticket revenue.  The city likes giving police extra excuses to harass people (could lead to arrests or additional tickets, after all, since they ID and you might have a warrant out, or they can search you and you might have a joint in your pocket).  It's also part of the "broken windows" policing strategy that's been in effect since the mid-1990s -- they want people to know that they're being watched, even for minor infractions.  It contributes to a sense of order and obedience.


    Oh, they'd have a field day on MTA light rail. Big blue collar guys sleep all the time, and one woman this morning looked like she was dead—her head back and her mouth open. And people do like to spread out on seats. I usually ride during commuting hours, but at other times there are a lot of squirrelly looking people on the train that I wouldn't want around when I was asleep.

    Oh great! Now we are outsourcing arrests?

    First signs of a local economic downturn: more pawn shops, more bank robberies and burglaries, and more traffic tickets.  

    Maybe the U.S. should solve its debt by issuing traffic tickets around the world.

    There's a debt problem?


    Not when you borrow in your own currency and control the supply of it.

    SFPD Breathalyzer Error Puts Hundreds Of DUI Convictions In Doubt

    Hundreds, or even thousands, of drunk driving convictions could be overturned because the San Francisco Police Department has not tested its breathalyzers, officials said Monday.

    For at least six years, the police officers in charge of testing the 20 breathalizyers used by the Police Department did not carry out any tests on the equipment.

    Officers instead filled the test forms with numbers that matched the control sample, said Public Defender Jeff Adachi, throwing countless DUI convictions into doubt.

    Maybe we should privatize breathalyzer tests, too.

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