Greedy Cities and Speeding Ticket Chicanery

by Kerry Dougherty 

Hire more traffic cops. At the very least hire Virginia companies to fleece Virginia drivers.

That’s the advice I have for Chesapeake and Suffolk, where instead of sending cops with radar guns out to catch speeders, they’ve hired out-of-state vendors with cameras.

Worse, according to attorney and former Del. Tim Anderson, who’s filed suit to stop the practice, the cities allow the vendors – did I mention they were out-of-state? – to impersonate cities when collecting fines.

Anderson says the cameras are cropping up all over the commonwealth. He’s handling two local cases pro bono and is seeking reimbursement for all drivers who were ticketed illegally by the vendors pretending to be city officials. If these cases are successful – and it seems clear the cities are violating the state law – he plans to sue in other jurisdictions to halt the process.

A close look at the notices show that the fines in Chesapeake are to be sent to an address in Pennsylvania, and Suffolk’s citations go to Maryland.

Looks official, no? Almost as if it came from the Chesapeake Police Department.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that so far Chesapeake – er, its vendor – has issued 150,788 citations and gobbled up $9.3 million in these phony fines. Suffolk has issued 167,883 and hoovered up $11.72 million. Norfolk has cameras in place in a test phase and Hampton may be next. Portsmouth also has the cameras.

No wonder the cameras are catching on. These things are bigger money makers than casinos!

“Photo speed monitoring” became legal in 2020 during the Northam regime on a mostly party-line vote, with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition. The law allows a maximum fine of $100 to be assessed.

Apparently, the GOP was able to peer into the future and see that the program would be abused. The law was intended to cut down on speeding, not to be a huge cash cow for localities.

Anderson says local cities are not following the law.

“The notices are supposed to be issued exactly as if law enforcement had issued them,” Anderson told me. “But there is no court date. If someone wants to contest the $100 fine they have to write a letter and contest it. Most people don’t want to take a day off work to sit in court when they can’t get points on their license for these notices.”

The law also says each violation has to be reviewed by law enforcement before it’s sent. Anderson says there is no way that is happening, given the huge volume of notices.

“I’m not saying speeding isn’t wrong, it is,” he added. “But just because someone broke the law doesn’t mean the city gets to break the law.”

“The government is required to obey the law.”

Look, speeding in school or work zones is dangerous and needs to stop. But the answer isn’t out-of-state cash-collecting robots.

It’s traffic cops.

Hire them and can the cameras.

Republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited.