7/31/2014Connecticut: Redflex Busted For Impersonating The State Court
Australian photo ticketing company busted for impersonating the Connecticut judicial system.
The state of Connecticut's judicial system in January issued a cease-and-desist order to Redflex Traffic Systems after the Australian photo ticketing vendor was caught giving the impression that its tickets and payment website came from the court. Connecticut does not allow red light cameras or speed cameras, but Redflex uses school buses as photo ticketing platforms in accordance with a law passed in 2011.
One of the vehicle owners who received a $450 school bus ticket from Redflex under this law became suspicious and sent a copy of the notice he received to Connecticut's chief court administrator, who was appalled at what he saw.
"The documents purport to be issued by the state of Connecticut, reference the Judicial Branch website and direct payment to the Centralized Infractions Bureau," wrote Martin R. Libbin, legal services director for the Connecticut Judicial Branch. "The documents further direct questions concerning this infraction to an out-of-state number and the footnote references the smart bus website. Also attached are screen captures from the Smart Bus website which make use of the Judicial Branch mission statement, Judicial Branch seal and Judicial Branch web page banners."
The email to Redflex employees put an immediate stop to ticket issuance, as first reported by the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper.
"The office of the chief court administrator has reviewed these documents and has determined that your organization not only lacks the authority to issue said documents, but that it inappropriately suggests that payment is the only option for the recipient of the ticket," Libbin wrote. "Please be advised that you are to immediately cease production and use of these documents."
On June 24, the state accepted a revised citation design from Redflex and the company's lobbyist, Jay F. Malcynsky. Libbin issued a memo lifting the ban on school bus ticketing with a warning that a human being must witness the alleged violation "live" and file an affidavit for the citation to be valid.
"As I have advised you in the past, I cannot make any representations as to how a magistrate (or judge) will rule should there be a challenge to the sufficiency of the documents noted above, or if a party seeks to compel the testimony of the individual who witnessed the violation live," Libbin wrote in an email to Redflex. "Furthermore, the propriety of any violation issued will depend upon full compliance with Connecticut General Statutes Section 14-279."
School bus ticketing has been a headache for Redflex ever since it bought the upstart school bus camera firms SBL Investments and Americore Enterprises in 2012. The $7 million deal has caused the Australian firm to report a $2.2 million loss from bus enforcement in its most recent financial statement.
"The company experienced a number of challenges in turning violations detected into paid fines," Redflex told Australian investors.
Redflex predicted further loses in the second half of this year.
Automated school bus ticketing programs generate volume by focusing on technical violations, such as photographing vehicles that did stop for the bus, but not at the specific distance required in the statute. In some states it is not necessary to stop on the opposite side of a "divided highway," but confusion over what meets the definition of "divided" creates the opportunity to trap motorists.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 73 percent of the school-age pedestrians who have died in a crash near a school bus since 2000 were hit by the school bus, not other motorists.
A copy of the order is available in a 800k PDF file at the source link below.