1/31/2020Louisiana: Inspector General Finds Motorists Falsely Accused By Speed Camera
New Orleans, Louisiana inspector general found widespread speed camera mismanagement caused innocent motorists to be ticketed.
Innocent motorists received tickets in the mail from the private speed camera vendors operating in New Orleans, Louisiana, according to a report issued Thursday by the city's inspector general. A review of the lucrative program found widespread mismanagement that allowed the municipality to improperly keep over $730,000 in fines, largely because of the lack of oversight.
"The [speed camera program] periodically issued illegal tickets when schools were not in session because no one was responsible for confirming that school locations and calendars were accurate," the report found. "The impact of these management failures fell on members of the public, who had to figure out that there was a problem and ask the city for a refund on an overpaid camera ticket or an improper school zone ticket. Forcing private citizens to police the program undermined public confidence in the traffic camera program."
According to the report, the city "relied heavily" on American Traffic Solutions (ATS, now known as Verra Mobility) to run every aspect of the program, "ineffectively" overseeing the for-profit company's actions.
"This lack of management contributed to the erroneous issuance of citations, inadequate processes to ensure refunds to drivers for overpayments on traffic camera citations, and a failure to identify and correct problems within the program," the report explained.
ATS issued tickets in school zones when school was not in session, contrary to the law. It also issued "school zone" tickets in areas where the school itself had moved location or closed. The company also issued tickets more than thirty days after the vehicle owner was identified, again in violation of the law. When New Orleans police "reviewed" citations, they did not bother watching the twelve-second videos of alleged incidents supplied by ATS. Instead, they hit the "convict" button after less than ten seconds a majority of the time and in less than five seconds one out of four times.
This process was used to issue 402,783 automated tickets worth up to $205 each to generate $24 million in revenue in 2017. The public did not approve, as a 2018 University of New Orleans survey that found 62 percent wanted the traffic cameras removed, matching the results of election contests around the country in which photo enforcement has been banned (view list). ATS kept the money from at least six thousand motorists who overpaid their ticket and were entitled to an, on average, a $95 refund.
A copy of the report is available in a 2mb PDF file at the source link below.