8/5/2008Innocent Florida, Louisiana Motorists Receive Bogus Photo Tickets
White man sent photo ticket for offense committed by a black man in Louisiana while great grandmother in Florida receives bogus ticket from Georgia.
Recent incidents in Georgia and Louisiana call into question the common assertion of photo enforcement advocates that the camera never lies. Officials in charge of red light camera and speed camera programs claim it is "rare" for erroneous tickets to be issued because a human police officers diligently verifies each and every citation for accuracy before it is issued.
It appears that Lafayette, Louisiana made no such check when, as KSLA television reported, it mailed a black man's red light camera ticket to a white man. The city accused Alan Dukes, the owner of a 2005 Honda motorcycle, of speeding on June 4. Yet the photograph of the alleged violation clearly shows a black man riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Dukes maintains that he is innocent.
"You can see there's no close resemblance, whatsoever," Alicia Dukes told KSLA in comparing a photo of her husband to the ticket photo.
Lafayette's director of photo ticketing, Tony Tramel, insisted it would cost too much money to have police officers witness violations and ticket drivers in person.
"Do we make errors or mistakes? Occasionally it does happen," Tramel admitted. "Can we be absolutely perfect? I wish we could."
Lafayette's error is the inverse of a 2006 situation in Scottsdale, Arizona where a black man was sent a white man's speeding ticket. In Atlanta, Georgia it was the owner of a white car that was sent a ticket for an offense committed by a black car.
WPLG television reported on this case where great grandmother and Hollywood, Florida resident Evelyn Singer received a ticket for running a red light in Atlanta at 6:30am on June 24 at the intersection of Courtland and Baker streets. The document insisted that Singer pay $70.
Singer responded with a certified letter explaining that her white Acura looked nothing like the black Pontiac committing the offense alleged in the ticket photograph. Moreover, she has not been to Atlanta in thirty-five years. When Singer later called to confirm whether the ticket had been canceled or not, the courthouse either put her on hold or hung up while the Miami television station's cameras were rolling. After several frustrating attempts, Singer reached a a human and asked how often the cameras make mistakes.
"It doesn't really matter as far as what we're trying to accomplish," the unidentified Georgia courthouse official responded.
The court told WPLG that it was likely Singer's ticket would be canceled.