Tags: Court | Upholds | Mailing | Tickets | 'Speeders' | Caught | Camera

Court Upholds Mailing Tickets to 'Speeders' Caught by Camera

Thursday, 21 November 2002 12:00 AM

In a decision released Wednesday, the Oregon Court of Appeals turned down the arguments of Cheryl Dahl, a hapless motorist who contended she was being wrongly forced to prove her innocence to fight a ticket mailed to her in 2000 after a Portland police officer tracked her car on radar and photographed it, but did not pull the vehicle over and confirm the identity of the driver.

"It's great news for the city because it enables us to go out and efficiently address problem areas with new technology, yet not increase our personnel costs," Portland Police Cmdr. Mike Garvey told the Oregonian.

The ruling, which could still be appealed, also struck a blow to the arguments against technology that allows law enforcement agencies to send tickets to the owners of vehicles that have been tracked by radar and then photographed so the license number can be read.

Critics say the practice, which is also used to catch motorists who run through red lights, can result in the registered owner of a vehicle getting an expensive ticket in the mail even if someone else was behind the wheel when the offense occurred.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel determined that state law only "requires the state to prove a traffic violation 'by a preponderance of the evidence,' the ordinary civil standard, rather than 'beyond a reasonable doubt,' the standard applied in criminal cases."

"The defendant remonstrates that criminal standards are applicable because, even though a traffic violation is punishable only by a fine [and] not by incarceration, collateral consequences attach to a traffic violation ... increased insurance premiums and more serious penalties for repeat offenses," the ruling said. "However, defendant offers no support for the assertion that those risks rise to the level of criminal punishment."

The judges ruled it is reasonable for police to assume that the driver of a speeding vehicle is likely the registered owner.

"Just as we might agree that vehicles are sometimes driven by non-owners, we must also note that it is not irrational for the legislature to presume that vehicles often are driven by owners," the ruling said.

Hawaii's use of cameras to generate speeding tickets was halted last spring amid complaints that most of the citations were issued to drivers going less than 10 miles over the speed limit, which three judges decided did not adequately account for potential inaccuracies with the radar units.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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In a decision released Wednesday, the Oregon Court of Appeals turned down the arguments of Cheryl Dahl, a hapless motorist who contended she was being wrongly forced to prove her innocence to fight a ticket mailed to her in 2000 after a Portland police officer tracked her...
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Thursday, 21 November 2002 12:00 AM
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