3/28/2009Italian High Court Overturns Red Light Camera Tickets
Supreme Court of Cassation in Italy overturns red light camera system.
Tickets issued by unmanned red light cameras violate the fundamental legal rights of Italian motorists, according to a ruling handed down yesterday by Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation. The high court sided with motorist Lorenzo S. who had received a ticket in the mail from a private company operating on behalf of the city of Modena six years ago.
"The lack of agents working in that location precludes the possibility of an immediate challenge in cases where this is possible, circumventing legal obligation in this respect," Second Civil Division ruling Number 7388 stated. "It also makes it impossible to verify the concrete circumstances in which the automatic detection unit operates, allowing possible misunderstandings, no resolutions with certainty, because of the very absence of agents on the spot."
The court overturned the decision of an appellate court in Modena and canceled the fine issued against Lorenzo. The consumer watchdog group Codacons celebrated the ruling as the end of automated ticketing machines in Italy.
"This is an important decision because it recognizes the fundamental right of motorists to immediately contest a fine," Codacons President Carlo Rienzi said in a statement. "The result now is that all those who have received a high fine from a machine without the presence of a policeman can request and obtain cancellation of the penalty."
The ruling came in the wake of the January arrest of red light camera makers on the charge that they defrauded the government and conspired with over one hundred mayors and local police officials to shorten yellow times to generate profit both for municipal coffers and, in some cases, for the officials themselves.
According to Italian media reports, representatives from the Ministry of Transport this week confirmed to investigators in Verona allegations that the red light camera model delivered for certification by Stefano Arrighetti, CEO of Kria Inc, differed significantly from the device actually used in the field by more than sixty jurisdictions. The relay component that transmits data between the camera and the microprocessor that determines guilt had never been sent to the ministry for official certification. The evidence provided by the ministry is considered a key element in the case against Arrighetti as the investigation continues.