The skewed perspective of a conservative Catholic employee-side employment lawyer living in the most exciting city in the Milky Way, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, who listens to a lot of really strange music and who, for some reason, lives and dies St. Louis Cardinal baseball

2/19/2005

Virginia ends red light cam experiment

The Washington Post is reporting a small victory on the civil liberties front. A committee in the House of Delegates in the Commonwealth of Virginia has declined to extend the life of a legislation allowing for the use of cameras at traffic signals. The stated intent of such cameras is to catch red-light-running drivers.

This is just another one of those blatant encroachments on civil liberties that people have swallowed without much question here in (as Instapundit would say) "John AshKKKroft's AmeriKKKa". The problem with traffic cams (either red light cams, or speed trap cams like I saw in use on Vancouver Island in B.C. Canada several years ago) is that they upset the burden of proof of criminal cases. For you to be convicted of any offense, whether it bne something serious or petty, the government has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and without violating your right against self-incrimination.

By using cameras, the government may be able to prove that your vehicle was involved in an act of lawlessness, assuming the government can prove the accuracy of its machine on the night in question. However, unless the camera gets a clear shot of the passenger compartment, it cannot show who was driving. The court is effectively asking the accused to prove innocence, that someone other than the vehicle owner was driving in the cam shot. The court is probably also using right against self-incrimination as "proof" of guilt. That isn't how criminal justice is supposed to be dispensed in this country.

So it is nice to see a political branch of government, in this case the Commonwealth's House of Delegates, reclaim a little lost territory in the battle to protect our civil rights.
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