Dear Cop - Cameras

The "cameras" at intersections are a constant source of questions & discussions amongst drivers at the water cooler. Many feel these cameras only catch a "glimpse" in time & do not accurately reflect the danger that a driver may have had to use to go thru an intersection to avoid an accident. I am sure many feel that if they ever have the misfortune of being sent an offense notification in the mail (along with a fine, no doubt) that their chances of explaining the situation to a judge will 100% fall on deaf ears & will be forced to pay a fine in the end, despite ANY attempt of explanation.

To date, I have been fortunate enough NOT to have had any notifications in the mail, but the other day an incident occurred where I was forced to make a split-second decision & turn on a left signal then I thought AFTERWORD'S ... "hey, that camera up there would not understand the situation I was in, & no doubt if a notification letter came in the mail I would be choked & no judge would even bother to listen.

My questions are, what are the chances of explanation & actually having a judge understand & throw out a "camera-violation", and what's to say that a citizen in good standing may not be choked by being presumed guilty & wishing to blow the camera away with a shotgun at 3 am to get back at a system that presumes guilt?

The Red light traffic cameras are a very useful traffic instrument. These cameras can not only determine the date and time a vehicle is proceeding through a red light, they have the vehicle speed and the time from when the light went red until the violating vehicle went through the red light. I have thought of many reasons why a person would drive through a red light and other than an emergency vehicle with activated lights and siren or a vehicle trying to clear the intersection for an emergency vehicle, then what other reason would there be?

If a vehicle is in the intersection and is legally waiting to make a left turn and the driver waits until the light turns red due to oncoming traffic, the camera will not a take a picture of the left turning vehicle. The camera can only be activated when the light is red and a violating vehicle then crosses over the stop line which then activates the camera.

Presumed has a meaning of: To take for granted as being true in the absence of proof to the contrary. I know for a fact that the local presiding Judicial Justice/Justice of the Peace for Traffic court violation disputes in the Central Okanagan considers all of the circumstances and unless there is a reasonable explanation, then and only then, a person may be found guilty. If a person is found guilty perhaps not being able to articulate the circumstances was the problem.

As far as using a firearm to destroy the camera, well what can I say. You play with fire and you get burned. I do have to wonder why a mature and rational person who drives a vehicle on the roadways would think that "getting back at the system" would include shooting a red light camera over a traffic ticket. I would suggest that you think long and hard about the repercussions of writing such a statement. I know that life is not fair and sometimes you have to roll with the punches when things don't go your way. I hope that your inner common sense of reasoning would prevail and if it doesn't then you may be in for a rude awakening.

Constable R.A.(Richard) ASELTON
Central Okanagan Traffic Services - Media Liaison
Kelowna R.C.M.P. Detachment

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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