Following a recent Schilling Show exclusive on why central Virginians safely can ignore Albemarle County’s red-light camera tickets, NBC29’s Henry Graff sought the counsel of local defense attorney and recognized Democrat activist, Lloyd Snook, for counterpoint.

In response to the National Motorists Association’s (NMA) contention that recipients can disregard red-light camera tickets without consequence in most circumstances, Snook issued a contrary opinion:

“Don’t ignore things because nothing good comes from ignoring anything,” said Snook. “If you are entitled to a state tax refund, they’ll take it out of the state tax refund. If you are entitled to child support being collected through the state, they can take it out of the child support.”

Snook says ignoring the fine could also become a problem if you are trying to sell real estate or make it difficult to get things done at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

“It will eventually bite you in the rear end,” said Snook. “Better to take care of it sooner than later.”

While Snook urges servile compliance with the government mandate to dutifully pay red-light camera tickets upon receipt, the NMA has issued a clarifying refoinder (click to view .PDF) to the counselor’s assertions:

November 22, 2010

An Addendum to the National Motorists Association November 4, 2010 Editorial, “It Can Be Expensive Not Knowing Your Rights When Facing A Virginia Red-Light Camera Ticket”

In a November 15, 2010 post by Henry Graff at NBC29.com, Charlottesville attorney Lloyd Snook took exception to the statement by the National Motorists Association (NMA) that, “. . . the recipient of the mailed [Virginia] photo ticket can ignore the mailing without consequence.”

Mr. Snook indicated that a non-response to a photo ticket will result in a judgment against the recipient of the ticket, and he suggested the possibility of money being withheld from a state-sponsored payment, such as a tax refund, or of future difficulty in dealing with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The NMA editorial, “It Can Be Expensive Not Knowing Your Rights When Facing A Virginia Red-Light Camera Ticket,” should be read in its entirety for context. It cites the statute (§15.2-968.1) under the Virginia State Code that pertains to the use of red-light cameras in conjunction with the enforcement of traffic light signals. The statute is clear in noting that photo tickets are not enforceable (“no proceedings for contempt or arrest . . . shall be instituted”) unless delivered via personal service to the person identified on the ticket.

That leaves the issue raised by Mr. Snook of a judgment being issued and penalties being extracted through other means if the photo ticket has been disregarded.

Virginia began a pilot program for red-light camera programs 15 years ago, and has had the automated traffic enforcement devices in operation ever since. The NMA has found no evidence that a judgment or subsequent penalties have ever been levied against a Virginia photo ticket recipient who ignored the summons delivered by mail, i.e., without personal service. Our “with- out consequence” statement is based on the language and enforcement history of current Virginia law. If a ticket recipient has questions about this, he/she may wish to consult with an attorney.

Dan Danila, spokesperson for the NMA, has offered to dispatch the association’s traffic engineers to Albemarle County in order to assist local government in making “dangerous” intersections safer—the stated purpose for the  photo-red camera installation here.

With other jurisdictions nationwide deactivating and dismantling red-light cameras due to inefficacy, Albemarle’s PhotoSafe system, currently in a “30-day warning period,” is set to begin normal operations December 12, 2010.

8 COMMENTS

  1. The NMA has expressed its opinion. As I presume has the Schilling Show. I disagree with both. And, for the record, I have no ties to or affinity for Mr. Snook.

    I think it intriguing that the NMA goes to the effort of taking a position, refining it, and yet adding what is tantamount to a classic CYA pseudo-disclaimer: “If a ticket recipient has questions about this, he/she may wish to consult with an attorney.” Why? They have nothing to worry about. You said so. Rob said so. End of story, right?

    But, I really could care less about the NMA, or Mr. S. Their opinions — and their agenda — really is of no consequence when you choose to run a red light, get caught, and then choose to flaunt the law. You can couch it in terms of Civil Disobedience, justified by some mistrust of big brother — but really, all you are doing, is advocating reckless behavior and a lack of personal accountability.

    Stop lights exist for a reason. Traffic laws as well. Automating the largely administrative process of enforcement is a good stewardship of resources. And, I have to wonder, if it didn’t grab attention, if it wasn’t just a finger in the eye for the sheer thrill of it, would you yahoos even bother?

    Why stop at Photo Red? Let’s have no rules of the road whatsoever. Survival of the fittest on the roadways.

    Amazing.

  2. proac,
    Does freedom, individual rights and self-will and goernance exist in your concept of reality? The state exists to serve the people, not to subjugate them. Where does automating the enforcement procedures cease?

  3. Realist, how does automating the enforcement procedure subjugate the people? Isn’t it a good conservative – money-saving – move?

  4. The enforcement procedure? Hardly. I parked my vehicle for a short time and watched one of the cameras snap a dozen photos…none of which were people actually running the red light. They entered the intersection under a yellow, which turned red after they were in the intersection and after what seemed like a record-breaking fast yellow light. If I recall, the yellow light was shortened at that intersection, instead of lengthened to improve safety. I wonder why that was done? If the county wants to step up revenue, enforcement and improve safety, put a cop there a few hours each day for a few weeks and the public will get the message. They’ll probably pick up a few drunks, a fer inoperable equipment infractions and a few unlicensed / uninsured motorists as well, which goes further to increase safety.

    One of my workers said he thinks he had the photo taken…he was driving my truck on 29 with a flat bed semi following his bumper and pushed the envelope on the yellow instead of breaking hard and getting rear-ended by the truck, which followed him right through the intersection and definitely ran the light. If I get the invoice I’ll let you know…and I sure as heck won’t pay it as I wasn’t the operator of the vehicle. You call that enforcement? I call it extortion. The county ought to do their job and stop planting flowers and stone signs on the roadside if they need more money for law enforcement.

  5. The first thing I thought when I read the original post saying you can safely ignore the tickets was that The Powers That Be were going to link those tickets to other assorted beurocratic nonsense. For instance, in the City, property taxes are linked to the DMV, even though neither one has any business being connected. But if you don’t pay your property taxes then you can’t do anything at the DMV. So, it’s no surprise that these tickets would be linked to child support, state taxes, etc. etc. Like I said that was the first thing I thought of. It’s never so easy, trust me, not when it comes to this sort of thing. Eventually everything will be connected, and you’ll have to comply with everything, or else be denied. NWO, baby!

  6. Proac is engaging in Reductio ad absurdum. His wording sounds like it came straight from Police Rhetoric Training 101 from the local discount police academy. Wonder why.

    The effectiveness of red light cameras as anything other than revenue enhancements is no longer in question.

    The fact that Albemarle refuses to take NMA up on its offer of an engineering review of the intersection speaks volumes.

    Red light cameras are just another tax. Period.

  7. The NMA is correct – there is no penalty for ignoring a mailed red light camera ticket – none. See 2005 VDOT red light camera report at http://www.thenewspaper.com/rlc/docs/05-vdot.pdf:

    As the 2005 RLC VDOT report states in Appendix H: Virginia’s red light camera law “ultimately requires a personal notification, which may prove prohibitively expensive for some jurisdictions.”

  8. By now there should be ample evidence that the revenue demands (That’s right, revenue demands. They’re NOT promises to appear in court like police officers issue at traffic stops nor are they contractually agreed upon obligations of debt.) are totally unenforceable. Millions have ignored them and will continue to ignore them to their benefit.

    If you doubt this, simply provide your name and mailing address below and I will mail you an equally enforceable demand for cash. If you ignore my demand for cash I MAY sue you, though there’s no guarantee I’d get a judgment and if I did get a judgment there’s no guarantee I’d ever collect on it. Then again, I MAY not sue you ’cause that can get expensive, especially if I don’t get any collections on my revenue demands.

    Oh yeah, if you pay his fee up front, my dog will give you an ‘administrative hearing’ on the validity of my revenue demand. My dog is perfectly objective, I assure you. Basically, if he licks his nose after I apply peanut butter to it, you owe me, otherwise, you don’t. See, I’ve got a system every bit as valid as the revenue $cameras.

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