GUEST WORDS - Although the Red Light Photo Program in Los Angeles was officially terminated on July 31, there are an estimated 160,000 Angelenos still in limbo with pending tickets and a complete lack of clarity as to what may happen to them if they do not make payments, although City officials have called payments “voluntary.”
My call for an immediate amnesty (CityWatch, August 24) [link] has so far gone unheeded, except for written statements by Council member Zine saying he would speak to the Courts. Has he?
Numerous calls to the courts to get clarity for my clients yielded the information that red light photo tickets will NOT be sent to the DMV records of the car owner (who was not necessarily the driver).
But, do not exhale yet, because internal court records will report a “Failure to Appear” and are then sent to GC Services for collection. For those unaware, GC Services is the contractor retained by the County of Los Angeles to collect traffic ticket fines.
My numerous calls to and messages for Jamie Field at GC Services, the person in charge of collection efforts for the Los Angeles Superior Court, have thus far remained unreturned.
On Tuesday , August 22, Daily News columnist Kerry Cavanaugh reported that a colleague recently received a collection notice demanding $780.00 (for a ticket plus penalties) for one received in June and threatening that liens would be placed on his/her wages for non -payment. I find this governmental intimidation unacceptable and demeaning. I respectfully repeat my call for the City Council to declare an amnesty now on all pending photo red tickets.
The vast majority of the clients I represent received red light photo tickets for rolling right turns, aka California or Hollywood rolling-stops, which are proven not to cause accidents. If the City of Los Angeles wanted to immediately reduce the traffic accidents and improve public safety, LA would simply lengthen the yellow and red light intervals by one second at intersections with traffic lights.
City officials know this. Why don’t they “do the right thing” and just declare an amnesty?
If you are one of the 166,000 Angelenos in limbo or feel as incensed as I do, I urge you to call, email or write to your elected representatives asking them to end this misplaced justice.
Although this is August and Council members are on vacation, staff members are working who will get the message loud and clear.
(Sherman M. Ellison is a California trial attorney whose practice is almost exclusively traffic ticket defense. Ellison testified before the Los Angeles City Council on the controversial Photo Red Light Program in April, 2011 and is a regular contributor to numerous radio, television and print media outlets. He is widely considered the pre-eminent legal authority on traffic ticket defense in California. He can be reached at: www.ShermanEllison.com ) -cw
Tags: amnesty, amnesty for red light tickets, red light tickets, City Council, Councilman Zine, DMV, traffic tickets
Vol 9 Issue 69
Pub: Aug 31, 2011