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2/9/2005
DC Camera Ticket Horror Story
A columnist forced to pay a speed camera ticket even though he could prove conclusively he was not the driver.

Washington Post Columnist Warren Brown details what happened to him when he received a red light camera ticket from D.C. while he was 3,000 miles away from the alleged offense.

When Brown submitted proof that he could not possibly be the driver, the city demanded he identify the person who was driving. He had no way of knowing the driver because he had allowed workmen to use the pickup truck while they were working on the house.

Brown could guess who it might be, but he couldn't swear to anything. "That's not good enough," according to the Metropolitan Police Department. Without swearing to something he could not possibly know, Brown was forced to pay for a violation he did not commit.

Article Excerpt:
Okay, I have sent off my check for $150 in order to put this matter to rest and to be able to discuss it in print. But I've left with many salient questions. For instance, how do you reduce crime by punishing people who never committed one? How does citing an innocent vehicle owner stop the next intentional, law-be-damned red-light runner? And isn't it at least a bit paradoxical that the District government's concern for privacy removed the one way I could have extricated myself from being punished for something I didn't do?
Source: An Automated Traffic Cop Is No Arbiter of Justice (Washington Post, 2/6/2005)

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