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1/22/2008
Louisiana: Improperly Issued Speeding Tickets Tossed Out
Lafayette, Louisiana speed camera hearing confirms that tickets were improperly issued over a three month period.

Abshire brothers
Identical twins gave the speed camera program in Lafayette, Louisiana a double-punch last Friday by proving tickets were improperly issued over a three month period last year. Mark and Phil Abshire each received photo tickets for speeding on October 10, although neither had been behind the wheel at the times of the alleged offenses. The Abshires succeeded in proving that Redflex, the Australian company in charge of the city's program, printed tickets that cited a city ordinance that, at the time, did not have the force of law.

"The ordinance that is stated on this document appears to be a different number than the ordinance that would be in effect on the date of this violation," adjudicator Fred Davis said. "Based on that, the notice of violation is deficient."

With those words Davis, an attorney hired to decide the guilt of ticket recipients, dismissed charges against Phil Abshire. Redflex had attempted to get away with the improper notice by handing Davis freshly printed citations that cited a different ordinance. The reason for the switch is clear.

The twins had been prepared to argue that the ordinance on their ticket did not authorize the use of speed cameras at the side of the road. The legislative language allowed only "speed on green" cameras located at intersections to operate lawfully. The vehicle belonging to Mark Abshire had been accused by a camera van at the side of a road -- not at an intersection -- of driving 32 MPH in a 25 zone. Mark Abshire's ticket was tossed for the same reason as his brother's.

The photo ticket hearings took place in the non-descript Lafayette offices of Redflex around a conference room table while Lafayette City Traffic and Transportation Director Tony Tramel and City Councilman Keith Patin stood in the back of the room to monitor the adjudicator's rulings. Davis refused to answer questions about whether the city or Redflex paid his salary as a contractor to run the hearings. Both Davis and Tramel also refused to hand copies of the reprinted citations over to the Abshires.

"They would not give me a copy without consulting an attorney," Phil Abshire said. "Their documentation is different and they refuse to give me a copy. What they provided to us is not what they provided to the adjudicator."

Likely hundreds of motorists received citations for claimed violations that took place between August 22, 2007 and November 21, 2007 that are equally "deficient," but Lafayette has chosen not notify them or issue refunds.

TheNewspaper has also learned that although these well-prepared defendants won their case, forthcoming evidence may cast new doubt on the independence of the Lafayette hearing process. Watch an uncut video, 38 minutes in length, showing the Abshire hearings in their entirety.





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