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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Virginia's draconian new driving laws (Page 4)

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Author Topic: Virginia's draconian new driving laws
steven
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The thing I found confusing was that a private company had actually been handling the cameras, the enforcement, everything. They billed you. It was not disputable, and it went on your credit report if you didn't pay. No arrest warrant was ever issued if you didn't pay. I suppose the non-disputable nature of it was what was not constitutional.

The question is, if it's truly constitutional, why didn't the government start their own program after they were forced to fire the private company?

I predict all these cameras will be found unconstitutional eventually, like the Minnesota Supreme Court has already found. Just my 2 cents, granted, I'm no lawyer. Dag, you got thoughts?

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ElJay
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The Minnesota case wasn't found unconstitutional, it was found to violate a state law, the Minnesota Highway Traffic Regulation Act, which requires uniformity of traffic laws across the state.

The program could be reworked in such a way so as not to violate the MHTRA and be restarted. The cameras have not been removed from the intersections in question, unless it's happened in the last two weeks, I guess I haven't driven that way since mid-June. (Two of the intersections in question are about a mile and a half away from me. And they were well selected for the program, the lights are run constantly.) When the ruling came down there was a lot of speculation in the local news about what changes would have to be made if Minneapolis was going to try to restart the program.

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steven
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It looks to me that there was, in fact, a due process issue at the heart of the matter, according to this link.

Dag, you got thoughts?

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ElJay
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Due process is in there, sure. But that link refers the Minnesota Highway Traffic Regulation Act 5 or 6 times, and doesn't mention the constitution once.
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Dagonee
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It is possible that, if the MHTRA did not exist, the court would have found that the presumption violated due process. However, the decision as it is written simply states that a local act conflicted with a state act. There was no finding that it was unconstitutional, and, in fact, it is explicitly stated that the constitutional question was not addressed by the court.

Although due process was at the heart of the issue, it was inadequate due process under state law, not either applicable constitution.

Rebuttable presumptions of guilt are generally considered unconstitutional. However, there are several possible exceptions that might allow red light cameras to survive:

1) They could be civil penalties, not criminal penalties, in which case the due process protections required are less. This would be true only if jail was not a possibility.

2) They could be construed as defining elements of the crime of running a red light. For example, "It shall be a crime to own a car which is driven through an intersection when a traffic light controlling that intersection is red in the direction of travel at the time the car enters said intersection. It shall be an affirmative defense to an offense under this section if the owner proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not driving the car at the time it entered the intersection and that he did not require or knowingly permit the driver to violate this section." (That's horribly drafted, but it would take me a bit of time to improve - it should be adequate as an example.) This represents a very complex constitutional question concerning the permissible boundaries of a crime and affirmative defenses.

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steven
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The question is, will people stand for it? Apparently, in Greensboro, they will not. This stuff has seriously inconvenienced people in many cases, and I think its lack of popularity may be its downfall, perhaps.
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