Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DC Council Planning To Fine The Innocent

According to an article on WTOP, the D.C. council has given preliminary approval to legislation which would take away a vehicle owner's right to transfer liability if a ticket is issued while another individual was driving it.

"You no longer will be able to transfer liability if you are the registered owner to the person who was driving," said Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh during a meeting of the Council. "Over time, this process has been abused, often to delay or frustrate the collections process."

In Maryland, motorists currently have the right to transfer liability for speed camera citations to another driver by providing the name and driver's license number of that person and proof you were not driving.  DC law currently has a similar provision which this bill would remove.

"Motorists are concerned about the loss of a major defense against automated enforcement tickets, and rightly so," said AAA Mid Atlantic Manager of Public and Government Affairs John B. Townsend II in a statement.

The bill is expected to come up for a final vote next month.  A change is being considered to exempt rental car companies, who complained that they would be liable for large numbers of tickets.

DC has an extensive and massively profitable speed and red light camera program, which includes cameras attached to street sweepers issuing parking tickets, tickets for left turns on red and 'blocking the box'.  The District was recently ranked as the "Most Watched" City in America by Men's Health Magazine, a ranking which takes into account the city's photo enforcement program but also other types of surveillance including wire tapping and police surveillance.  DC recently approved the deployment of 88 new traffic camera sites and budgeted to add an additional $25million/year to the $55million/year the cameras currently generate.  And now with the new legislation, DC makes plain that money from the innocent is the same color as money from the guilty'.