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5/12/2005
ACLU Challenges New Mexico Car Confiscation
Court date set for challenge to Albuquerque, New Mexico red light camera and DUI penalties.

ACLU Executive Director Peter Simonson
The ACLU filed an injunction yesterday in New Mexico state court to halt the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico's ordinance that would confiscate the cars of individuals before they are convicted of committing any crime.

Under the city's "public nuisance" ordinance, an individual accused of driving under the influence of alcohol would lose his car upon arrest. Someone who receives two red light camera citations in the mail would lose his vehicle for 30-days, even if the owner was not driving the car.

"The City has created a system whereby everyone who is accused of these crimes is automatically considered guilty," ACLU Executive Director Peter Simonson said. "That's not fair and it's not constitutional. People deserve their day in court."

Comments from Albuquerque Police suggest the extent of due process given to the accused. "If the violation is valid, which it almost always is, we OK it, send it back to (Redflex), and they mail out the citation," Police Lt. Robert Haarhues told the Albuquerque Journal last year. "It's a 30-second involvement for us, if that."

The first motions in the case will be heard by State Court Judge Theresa Baca on May 17.



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