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UK: Motorists Disprove Speed Camera Tickets
An innocent motorist forced to pay $840 fine after proving he was not speeding. A second motorist proves the camera inaccurate with a cellphone.

Autopoietic Systems
A pair of UK motorists last week succeeded in proving they had been wrongly fined by speed cameras, but only one of them escaped paying a penalty.

In the West Midlands, the owner of The Staffordshire Knot pub was fined even though he could prove himself innocent of speeding. Stephen Gittus, 39, parked his Kia outside of his establishment on the date and time that a notice he received in the mail claimed his car was hurtling through Wolverhampton at 40 MPH in a 30 MPH zone on Willenhall Road. Several witnesses confirmed that Gittus was playing darts in a crowd of thirty patrons at around 10pm on the date in question.

Last Tuesday, however, Wolverhampton Magistrates Court dropped the speeding charge but did not care that Gittus was innocent. Instead, they imposed three license demerit points and a £420 (US $840) fine on him for "failing to supply information to police" regarding the ticket. Section 172 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act requires motorists to identify the driver of a vehicle accused of speeding, even if the vehicle in question was parked at the time.

"I pleaded not guilty because I was not driving the car," Gittus explained to the Express and Star newspaper. "I was in the pub having a drink and playing darts with my mates. I couldn't name the driver on that form because, as far as I'm concerned, no-one was driving the car."

Dr Phillip Tann, 45, had greater success escaping a fine with the help of a lawyer. Tann, an engineer, proved conclusively that he had not been speeding after police armed with a mobile lidar speed camera accused him of piloting his Mercedes at 42 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. What police did not realize is that they had gone after a developer of sophisticated vehicle tracking system hardware and software. Tann, founder of Autopoietic Systems, knew exactly how fast he was going using his own telemetric devices. Tann's various GPS devices can track a vehicle's location to within one meter and log its speed. Tann was going just under 30 MPH.

At the time, Tann was using his company's new Mobile Phone Recorder, which is set for public release on December 1. The application allows a cellphone's built-in GPS to track and record the owner's speed in a centralized database for a monthly fee. Autopoietic Systems will then produce a certificate that an innocent motorist can use in court to contest a speeding charge.

Numerous independent reports have documented errors in the devices. In response to the Tann incident, Safe Speed founder Paul Smith called on the Home Office to ban the use of laser speed guns.

"Millions of motorists are being convicted by these devices with evidence that can never be beyond a reasonable doubt," Smith said. "It's a tragedy for justice and a tragedy for road safety."

Source: Caught speeding Scientist clears himself (The Sun (UK), 10/8/2007)

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