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It Just Got a Lot Tougher to Get out of Red-Light Camera Tickets

State high court ruled today that such evidence is "presumed authentic" unless a defendant can successfully challenge it.

Patch file graphic.
Patch file graphic.
The California Supreme Court made it easier today for prosecutors to use red-light camera evidence against drivers who fail to stop at traffic signals. 

In a ruling issued in San Francisco, the court unanimously said that images and data automatically recorded by the cameras have a "presumption of authenticity" similar to the presumption for other types of photos and videos.

Under the presumption, the camera evidence is considered valid unless a defendant can successfully challenge it. 

The court ruled in the case of Carmen Goldsmith, who was convicted in Los Angeles County Superior Court of a traffic infraction and fined $436 for failing to stop at a red light at an intersection in Inglewood in 2009. 

The only prosecution witness in the non-jury trial was an Inglewood police investigator who had not personally witnessed the incident, but who had worked in red-light camera enforcement for six years and who testified about how the system worked. 

In her appeal, Goldsmith argued that prosecutors should have been required to provide more evidence to authenticate the cameras. 

She also claimed the recordings should have been considered second-hand hearsay evidence. 

But the state high court upheld a California law that provides that red-light camera evidence has the same presumption of validity as other types of photos and videos. 

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote that from the investigator's testimony, "it can be reasonably inferred that the (camera) system automatically and contemporaneously recorded the images of the intersection and the date imprinted on the photographs." 

"No elaborate showing of accuracy is required" for the automatically produced images and data, the chief justice said. 

The court also rejected Goldsmith's claim that the camera evidence was hearsay, which is defined as second-hand evidence about a statement made by a person.

The panel said the automatically generated camera images and data were presentations of information by a machine, not a person. 

"The evidence code does not contemplate that a machine can make a statement," Cantil-Sakauye wrote, quoting from an earlier ruling. 

Under the red-light camera system, which is authorized by theCalifornia Vehicle Code, drivers are identified through photos of their license plates. 

--Bay City News
John Tedeschi June 07, 2014 at 12:08 PM
I do not have a problem with the cameras- I do have a problem with the fines. $100 plus penalties of $400 and if you want to hide the ticket from the DMV $60 more for traffic school. What kind of crap is that? I feel like I am living in another country. What happened to make the fine equal to the offense? If you happen to go through a yellow/red light which is measured in microseconds you pay through the nose. This is outrageous!
notmyfault June 07, 2014 at 03:51 PM
You are in no way obligated to pay this red light tickets, they do not go against your driving record if you don't. You can still drive, register your car. These tickets are unenforceable under federal laws of the US. The most they can do is go into collections. I got 2 of these tickets and never paid them and nothing happened.
brad June 07, 2014 at 04:03 PM
The problem is if you want to fight the ticket you have to pay the fine before or "bail" then go to court to argue against it. I feel like taking the front license plate off because some yellow lights are too quick, or you get stuck in gridlock.
Fortified- I am Buzzlightyear >>>>>>>> June 07, 2014 at 06:30 PM
I am pretty sure no front plate is a ticket as well. Also, I wonder if the pictures are from the rear as well.
Virginia Johnson June 08, 2014 at 01:27 PM
Our City of South Gate north of Long Beach has discontinued the Red Light Camera program. It was not making enough money and the accident rates weren't that impressive. Cams still up 3 months later but don't think they are flashing.

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