Sunday, June 14, 2009

Traffic Cameras

Callers to my radio show continue to be intrigued by the issue of cameras installed at traffic lights and intersections so that you can be mailed a ticket for any infraction. A local city. Mt. Juliet, is considering installing them.

I happened to wonder, just the other day, exactly how the photo could be admitted. After all, in order to admit a photograph, you have to elicit testimony that it accurately depicts the conditions at the time it was taken. In the case of an automated traffic camera, who would authenticate it? No one is present when it was taken and the driver can refuse to testify.

Here is what I imagine is the case. Most cities, and states, consider violation of the traffic laws to be civil, not criminal, in nature. I expect that they will argue that the rules of evidence don't apply to the proceedings to enforce infractions caught on camera.

I don't see that the issue has been litigated in Tennessee and I haven't looked elsewhere. Perhaps someday a case will present itself and I can raise the issue (and the client will fund an appeal). Until then, it makes for interesting conversation amongst us lawyers.


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