2/26/2007California: Illegal San Jose Photo Radar Program May End
San Jose, California to end illegal speed camera program after a decade of ticketing.
The San Jose, California city council will consider ending speed camera ticketing at a March 6 meeting. The council's Transportation and Environment Committee is recommending that the city only use the system, dubbed "NASCOP," to issue warnings because it violates state law. The California legislature has refused several times to allow photo radar programs to operate.
"Due to activities in the state legislature in the past few years, and recent court cases in Santa Clara County, there are legal concerns regarding the continuation of the NASCOP program in its present form," a committee report stated.
In 2000, the state legislature made its intentions clear by adding the following provision: "The authorization in Section 21455.5 to use automated enforcement systems does not authorize the use of photo radar for speed enforcement purposes by any jurisdiction."
Nonetheless, since 1996, San Jose has teamed with Australian camera vendor Redflex to operate a fleet of white photo radar vans on 177 city streets. Redflex used the vans to mail expensive tickets to motorists driving just a few MPH above the speed limit in 25 and 30 MPH zones, splitting the revenue with San Jose. Last year, the program issued 7000 tickets worth $99 to $350 each.
Former Santa Clara Police Department Lieutenant Roger Luebkeman won a court case against San Jose last year by arguing the ticketing program was unlawful.
San Jose resident John Larson also won dismissal of a ticket by the Santa Clara County Court. He argued that the program violated California's speed trap law which protects motorists from being ticketed in areas where speed limits have been lowered for reasons not justified by sound engineering practices. The court agreed in his case that the city's engineering survey, "does not justify the speed limit." Larson is now pressuring the city to refund the fines it has illegally collected over the years and has started a new website, nascop.com, to gather support for his effort.