Red light camera opponent Capt. Van accuses city of lying

The Case of the Red Light Cameras

By Betsy Dolan

The New Territory man known as Captain Van who is leading a unrelenting march against Sugar Land’s red-light cameras, now says he has proof the City is lying about using a collection agency for unpaid fines in order to cover up the fact that paying the fines is voluntary.

The City denies the accu-sations.

Captain Van filed an Open Records Request (ORR) with the City of Sugar Land in December after receiving conflicting statements in regard to his questions about the validity of the City’s collection agency.

In his ORR, Captain Van asked for the contact information for the collection agency and copies of all attempts to collect a fine from a Sugar Land resident vehicle owner.

The owner profiled in the ORR, who the Star chose not to identify, was caught by red light cameras five times between February 22, 2012 and April 27, 2012 accumulating $500 in fines which have not yet been paid.

The City of Sugar Land’s Delinquent Payment Center based in Tempe, Arizona was listed as the collection agency name and violators were asked to mail fines to the Photo Enforcement Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition, the letter warned that failing to pay the fines could result in a non-renewal of the vehicle registration.

“It is an important fact that the red light camera violations are civil not criminal” Captain Van said. “It would require a large number of unpaid fines to make the filing of a civil suit cost effective. Five hundred dollars in fines and late fees by one vehicle owner were insufficient to trigger this option.”

The City of Sugar Land maintains that their agreement with American Traffic Solutions (ATS), the contractor in charge of overseeing the red light camera program, includes collection services. Furthermore, ATS is required to follow the mandates and regulations, including collections, set forth by the state and the Texas Department of Transportation.

“We have communicated to Captain Van and told him that the amount of fine assessed, the amount of the late fee for late payments and their required payment are all part of state law governing the operation of red light cameras,” said City spokesman, Doug Adolph. “The city of Sugar Land continues to use this enforcement tool because it has shown to be an effective tool to improve driver behavior at some of our heavier traveled intersections.”

Still, Captain Van maintains that the red light camera fines are voluntary because there is no way to prove who was driving the vehicle. He says the violations are not recorded in the law enforcement data base for vehicles or individual drivers. And he is continuing his petition drive to put the issue to voters. He has collected 1,033 signatures so far.

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Posted by on Jan 30 2013. Filed under Breaking News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

1 Comment for “Red light camera opponent Capt. Van accuses city of lying”

  1. Captain Van is the Man . . . a very honorable man. If he says that Sugar Land is lying, Sugar Land is lying.

    When it comes to red light camera revenue, cities no longer are governments by the people, of the people and for the people. The business aspect of the city–the “Incorporated” aspect of the City Charter, shows it ugly self. Cites w/ red light cameras act the same as the most corrupt corporations. Lying, cheating, fraud, embezzlement, bribery.

    Lafayette, Louisiana can tell you stories that Redflex’s agent was the girlfriend of the police chief.

    And as for cities near me, Knightdale and Raleigh–each red light camera ticket they product is one count of felony fraud. And the city officials know it! It Raleigh and Knightdale, a owner who is not the driver of the car can by city ordiance and state law mail in an affidavit to the mayor saying, “It was not me” which gets him off the hook. But the wording on the tickets expressly forbid this legal option. If Raleigh and Knightdale were people, they would have been locked up in jail for life.

    Cary, North Carolina did the same thing until the judge told them to stop committing fraud. Cary is a story in itself. Not only did Cary issue 136,000 fraudulent tickets, but also lies about the yellow durations around town while knowing they are below spec. Have the depositions and affidavits to show it.

    Cities lie. And they lie big time.

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