Traffic Ticket Fine Paid with Pig-Shaped Dollars
What? That’s okay, let us explain. In a YouTube video posted by Bacon Moose, Mr. Moose attempts to pay his fine with Dunkin’ Donuts boxes filled with 137 dollar bills folded, Origami-style, into little pigs. Apparently, Bacon Moose was trying to show his disdain for a traffic ticket he had previously received and simultaneously pay homage to police stereotypes (if it hasn’t hit you yet- pigs and donuts) when he attempted to hand the piggies over at the municipal court.
The clerk in Moose’s YouTube video is obviously nonplussed, but the police officer whom the clerk calls over actually finds humor in Bacon Moose’s payment/statement, even calling it “cool.” Unfortunately, though, Mr. Moose has to unfold each of his pigs before the clerk accepts his cash payment. This seems practical, but a bit of a buzz kill. Actually reminds me a lot of the court clerk at the Universal City Municipal Court – she’d call somebody over to “tattle” on them, too.
The original problem for Bacon Moose was that he received a ticket from a town he describes as a “money trap,” referring to the town’s use of stoplight cameras to catch motorists who run red lights. This blog has posted before about other cities that use stoplight cameras and the conflict this causes between these cities and their residents. Many believe that, as Bacon Moose says, stoplight cameras are “money traps,” meaning that the cities that use them only do so to generate extra income when times are tough financially. For example, one city we previously blogged about used proceeds from the camera fines to pay for new police cars, an expenditure to which many residents objected. After all, wouldn’t the use of red light cameras to issue traffic tickets actually reduce the need for police cruisers?
Selling Out Citizens?
City council members are then placed in a position to mediate between the residents who feel they are being treated unfairly and the police department who feels it needs support. One Houston resident posted disparaging comments about his city’s use of the cameras and how the companies who install and maintain them receive a percentage of the income generated from their use: “The moment City Council agreed to have the traffic light cameras installed with an expected revenue level (call it a “cut” or “commission” or “kick-back”, whatever) for the company, we as citizens of Houston were put in a compromised position. Agreeing to “financial performance” for the private company to ticket citizens, not to reduce crime or to increase safety, is tantamount to selling their fellow citizens out for financial gain.”
Conversely, these companies, along with the police departments who use their services, claim that using stoplight cameras will cut down on traffic accidents, speeding, running red lights, etc. But many times, crash data does not reflect the projected results that stoplight camera operating companies, like Redflex Traffic Systems, claim to provide. In fact, Houston’s cameras have been on and off for the last three years; residents believe that they aren’t producing enough results to continue their use but the city has to wrestle with contract issues.
Some cities are washing their hands of the whole ordeal. On January 18th of this year in nearby League City, the first of their stoplight cameras was turned off. It was an overwhelming 77% of the city’s voters who called for banning these cameras. League City was able to work with Redflex to shut some of their cameras down while remaining in compliance with their contract. The city asked voters whether they wanted to renew the contract with Redflex in October 2014, and thus avoided a breach. So there’s hope for others like Bacon Moose. Maybe his statement will make a difference in his town, although voting seems to be working in others….
If you have received a stoplight camera-generated ticket, red light camera ticket, or any other traffic ticket, and have questions or need help, please call Elaine Burgess at The Coquat Law Firm in San Antonio at (210) 745-2825.