Speed camera pranksters in Arizona are dodging their illegal tickets, and Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Jeff Hawkins is saying “These are what you probably consider as people who don’t really respect the law at all.”
Officer Hawkins and the State of Arizona should bear in mind that while these cameras are ‘legal’ in Maryland as well (among a few other states), they have yet to be challenged on a Supreme Court level: as they should, because other state courts have determined that their use is in violation of the Fourth Amendment. I realize that Officer Hawkins believes that he is following the letter of the law, but as they say in law school:
Legal is not right. Illegal is not wrong.
You may notice that the Fourth Amendment has been largely shot to pieces by the Supreme Court over the past century. However, it has yet to be established on a national level whether and if so under which circumstances an automated camera can be used as a reasonable means of convicting a person of any violation of the law.
If this use of speed cameras is as illegal according to the Constitution as it appears to be, then it is within the rights and responsibilities of SCOTUS to deliver a clear opinion on this matter. Speed cameras have affected Americans in many states with corrupt taxes, which have been profiteered from by the private industry contractors that build these devices. So, in other words, these cameras are not exactly legal Officer Hawkins; no matter what they’re telling you over at the corporate (or is that state?) headquarters that cuts your paychecks.
Until our courts explicitly state to me that they intend to spit in the face of the Constitution that our soldiers are sworn to defend with their lives, I refuse to pay a single one of these nonsense tickets. I would rather not exercise my licensed privilege to drive if it means that I will continue to have unreasonable fines levied against me for not driving in a way that requires that I brake heavily every time I go downhill, so as to maximize fuel consumption and prevent proper use of momentum.
There is nothing logical, moral or true to the values upon which these United States were established about these devices.
I would also rather not drive if I am to be forced to slam on my brakes whenever I come across an unexpected camera and risk being rear-ended by a less conscious driver. The State of Virginia’s Department of Transportation reports that forced braking caused by automated cameras make injurious accidents more likely.
I don’t need a permanent back injury just because local governments need to find new revenue streams during a recession. If these people need more breathing room in their budget, they should look no further than firing extraneous police officers and reducing their respective departments’ budgets. Each officer is a massive expense, and the fleets of brand new, expensive to maintain cars they require are doing nothing to increase my safety.
Within this past decade, I have been:
- Physically assaulted by a drunk off-duty police officer in downtown Rockville, less than a block from the courthouse. The police report was ‘lost.’
- Told by a DC Metropolitan police officer that my muggers from Metro Center wouldn’t be caught even though they were on CCTV from several angles.
- Pulled over and ticketed for driving the speed limit by two police officers who didn’t understand the parallax illusion of speed created by a car driving the speed limit against a backdrop of significantly slower cars (had to go to court for this, they did not show: they merely wanted to rudely lecture me and make me late to my class at Montgomery College).
- Jailed for two days in Virginia and fined over $1000 for speeding on a practically empty highway at night, during the early AM hours, far from any populated area.
- Detained illegally in July along with two friends on the side of a road barely more than two miles from my parents’ house by four Montgomery County, MD squad cars and a K-9 unit for two hours near midnight. My left tail light went out and I was driving slightly under the speed limit. Under, mind you, and not over. This was used as a pretext to give me a field sobriety test (I volunteered to take a breathalyzer, but they did not issue me the test). According to one officer (among five) who did not even issue me my field sobriety test, “something” about my test results told them that I may have been under the influence of narcotics. When I asked him politely what aspect of my test results gave that impression, I was shouted at for questioning the police’s ability to do their job. They’ve been trained, you see. However, that was not the nature of my question. I wanted to understand why I was being detained for a tail-light. I was never given an explanation beyond this.
I was asked if they had my permission to search my vehicle, and I did not give it. I had my cabin light on, and was clearly cooperative in all other ways, and I had no reason to consent to any unconstitutional searches. The drug dog walked around my car, found nothing, and wagged its tail until I received my tail light repair order and went home exhausted. I lost sleep before work the next day due to this completely uncalled-for imposition. My friends were visibly shaken.
Not once has any compromise of my safety ever been resolved by the intervention of a police officer. Ever. And if it had, just once, that would not compensate for the compromises to my safety, health, and security that have been rendered unto me by police officers. Corruption should not be looked at on a scale: it should be rooted out with an even and just hand.
If I am going to be fined and mistreated whether I drive under or over the speed limit, whether I have committed a misdemeanor or not, and whether there is anyone to bear witness against me or not, then I am no longer living in the United States of America that I read about in the history books. Perhaps those will be rewritten soon to fit with the Orwellian enforcement cameras and fascist thugs that have replaced our officers of the peace. I doubt it though: they’ll need that money to put heated seats in the next all-terrain stinger missile-equipped squad cars. Who has no respect for the law? Me, or police officers who have no idea of or interest in the spirit of what the law actually stands for?