More than 40 percent of drivers nailed on camera for running red lights in Santa Clarita are freeze-framed, cell phone to ear. Eight intersections in town have red light cameras. In addition to the cell-phone yakkers, 10 percent of the lawbreakers running the red are eating, drinking coffee or reading. Folks in Bakersfield, too, have been snapped by red-light cameras, gabbing away, for the four years cameras have been in place. In Lancaster, red-light cameras went into operation in September at two intersections and in their first 30 days photographed 322 red-light runners. Deputies who reviewed the photos said many of the motorists were talking on cell phones, though they didn't count how many. A California law that goes into effect in July 2008 will make it illegal for drivers to use hand-held wireless phones while driving. Speaker phones and hands-free headsets will be allowed. The fine for first-time offenders will be $20; thereafter, $50.
Authorities have sent 37 speeding tickets to Dave Vontesmar, claiming he'd been captured each time by speed camera. Dave denies he's at fault, saying he doesn't resemble the monkey driver portrayed in camera images.
Police claim to have done surveillance on Vontesmar and observed him putting on a monkey mask before hitting the Arizona street, proving without a shadow of a doubt he's at the helm of the distinctive Subaru, thus the issuance of the many, many tickets. Faced with the evidence, Vontesmar responded, "Not one of them there is a picture where you can identify the driver, the ball's in their court. I sent back all these ones I got with a copy of my drivers license, and said, 'It's not me. I'm not paying them.'" Ballsy. It seems to us the police have a case for one of the traffic tickets, if it were issued on the day of their surveillance operation, but all of them? While this might seem like a technicality, one is innocent until proven guilty, even in traffic court, and unless police can prove it was Vontesmar who donned the mask every single time, it seems he's got a point. Maybe instead of relying on unrepresented tax collection systems speed cameras, police should, you know, pull people over and alleviate that burden of proof.
A site patron recently wrote an email to me highlighting an intersection in Garden Grove California that did not have the required Caltrans approved photo enforced signs, but had their city designed photo enforcement signs. At Brookhurst Street and Westminster Avenue, the city updated the sign just before September 23. He had gone through the intersection sometime in August, and had seen that they hadn't posted the legal signs yet. There is a chance that motorists who got cited while the old signs were in place can get their tickets reversed, if they show that the old sign was in place at the time they went through. What do the legal signs look like? I will be posting legal Caltrans signs very shortly.