Fight it in Raleigh, Wilmington & Fayetteville
If you received the citation from Raleigh and you are the owner of the vehicle but not the driver, you have a State-sanctioned way out of paying and not disclosing the name of the driver.
If you received the citation from Wilmington, there is no fast way out of paying a ticket. See "Ignoring Your Citation".
If you received the citation from Knightdale, then it must be for a violation prior to October 2013. At that time Knightdale let its contract with Redflex expire. Knightdale turned off the cameras and the cameras have been off ever since.
The conditions which make red light cameras blossom like weeds come from the practices of NCDOT traffic engineers, not from driving behavior as most assume. Raleigh and Wilmington simply exploit the conditions for profit. Fighting the problem on a front other than engineering/physics is really vanity. You may use the easy-way out as described below for your own personal ticket, but your problem won't go away. You will most likely get another red light camera ticket. The NCDOT has stacked the deck, the City deals the cards, and the house always wins. For a permanent solution, see "Fighting the Engineers" below.
Know that the lion's share of your money is not going to education but to the red light camera company. Raleigh pays a fixed cost per camera per month plus other fees resulting in about 81% going to ACS. Knightdale and Cary gave about 90% to Redflex.
Wilmington pays about the same percentage to ATS. But Wilmington violates NC Constitution, Article IX, Section 7 and NCGS 115C-437. The Constitution requires that clear proceeds must go "exclusively" to public schools. NCGS 115C further defines clear proceeds as "gross penal fines - cost of collections" and that the cost of collections must not exceed 10% of gross penal fines. However the leasing of red light camera equipment and paying the vendor make up 90% of gross penal fines. That is a financial deal-breaker. In order to skirt the issue, Wilmington made a funding agreement with the Hanover school district. Wilmington gives a check to the school district of 90% of gross penal fines. The school district cuts a check back to Wilmington to cover red light camera operation costs. That kick-back violates the NC Constitution exclusivity clause.
All North Carolina cities attempted to redefine clear proceeds by subtracting out red light camera operation costs, but terminated their programs once Shavitz vs the City of High Point condemned the practice. The ruling simply upholds the NC Constitution and existing General Statute. The City must swallow the cost of enforcement and excessive collection costs. There is a good reason for this ruling and the law. The drafters of the NC Constitution did not want to turn criminal-making into a profitable business, either for a government or for a private business.
The City of Fayetteville is now in the process of reestablishing their red light camera program. The same financial deal-breaker is before them. Fayetteville intends to cut a deal with the school district as Wilmington does. Because Wilmington gets away with it, Fayetteville thinks it can.
Raleigh violates these laws even now. What makes Raleigh different is what is written into the Wake County's own red light camera law. The County law redefines "clear proceeds" to include "leasing equipment and paying the vendor". But the redefinition opposes those established laws and court decisions already discussed. It is a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen.
Owner But Not Driver
This option works in Raleigh.
If you are the owner of the vehicle but were not driving at the time and location on the ticket, do not pay. Do not divulge the driver's name either. You have another choice which the citation does not mention. You can say, "I was not driving at the time and location on the citation." Sign the appropriate affidavit below and mail it first-class to the mayor. In turn Raleigh will send you a dismissal letter. It is legal to do this and the city must accept it. The instructions are in the download.
If you are angry enough and you want to take action beyond just mailing in the affidavit, then you can do something fruitful. Sign up for an Administrative Hearing. See below.
|Wilmington||Sorry. Wilmington operates under a different statute.|
Red light camera citations from Raleigh have been fraudulent since the beginning of its red light camera program. Every citation is intentionally worded to omit your legal rights.
With willful intent and prior knowledge, John Sandor of Raleigh commits felony fraud by omitting the accused' legal rights on the Raleigh citations to secure payment. The Cary News published Sandor's confession on August 22, 2012. In his statement, Sandor lies to vehicle owners to prevent vehicle owners from possibly lying. At this time there are some 160,000 counts of fraud against Sandor. The mayor of Raleigh, Nancy McFarlane, also confesses in this ABC TV news report.
If you choose to settle the owner-not-driver issue personally with Safelight Raleigh, then you can walk into the Safelight Raleigh office and ask for the owner-not-driver affidavit. Safelight has prepared an affidavit for this purpose. The problem of course remains. With just a citation in hand, no one knows the possibility exists.
Finally your obedience to Raleigh's city ordinances while the government of Raleigh willfully disobeys the ordinances is your decision. Past and current acts of making statements omitting an owner's legal rights in order to secure payment have always been felonies. If Raleigh was a person, Raleigh would have been ordered to make 8 million dollars in restitution and would have been thrown in jail for 20 years. The wording of the law has been clear since 2001, yet Raleigh chose and still chooses to disobey the law in order to secure money. The combined cities of Raleigh, Knightdale and Cary have illegally collected over 17 million dollars.
Ignoring Your Citation
In all of North Carolina you are not responsible for paying a red light camera citation if you do not receive the citation within 90 days of the violation.
Raleigh and Knightdale: Session Law 2003-380 Section 3(2)
Wilmington: NCGS 160A-300.1(c)(1a)
Because Safelight does not hand-deliver the citation but rather sends the citation by mail, Safelight really does not know whether you received the citation. State law hinges on you receiving notification, not on Safelight's word that it mailed you notification. If you are going to ignore your citation, you must truly ignore it. Do not respond to the original citation. Do not respond to the penalty notice. Wait until the Safelight makes the next move (see below for what that is) and make sure that when you respond, you respond 90 days after the alleged violation.
Know that many people never receive their citations. Know that you do not have to give an excuse to Raleigh or Wilmington for why you did not receive notification. In civil cases, it is the plaintiff's responsibility (Raleigh or Wilmington) to produce a preponderance of evidence that you received notification. It is not your responsibility to prove that you did not receive notification.
Here are common reasons why one never receives notification:
1. Many people are on vacation and never receive the mail until it is too late.
2. Many people are in the process of moving, and the mail does not get forwarded to them.
3. Spouses separate for an impending divorce. The spouse remaining in the house does not forward the mail to the spouse who fled.
3. Many people find that these citations look like junk mail or a scam letters and throw them out.
4. Many people have family members opening the mail. Your spouse may have simply thrown away the citation. It happens.
If Safelight real wants its money legitimately, Safelight can serve you civil notice the old fashioned way--by dispatching a person who hands you the citation. That option is explicitly written into the North Carolina red light camera laws. Safelight opts not to use this method because it costs too much. Instead Safelight relies on the US mail and intimidation tactics, the latter in order to get you to turn yourself in.
The following is what to expect when you ignore the citation. Different cities do different things:
As of July 2013 we know that "ACS Raleigh" will hit your credit score if you ignore your citation. A credit report from TransUnion (a credit reporting agency) will reveal a line saying, "ACS Raleigh" at "212 Wolfe Street Raleigh, NC 27601." ACS is the private company who owns Raleigh's red light cameras.
You can call TransUnion and dispute the item.
The nature of the dispute is that the civil fine which ACS wants to collect is by federal definition not a debt. Because it is not a debt, it is not subject to collection. TransUnion is violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act by taking ACS's word for it that the ACS reported a valid debt. TransUnion's legal obligation is to ignore ACS-Raleigh, and could even file criminal charges of fraud against ACS Raleigh.
The legal definition of debt is:
While the North Carolina State Session Law 2001-286 allows ACS to regard the fine as a debt, the US Code does not. The wording in the NC State Law contradicts the higher law. (Red light camera companies routinely introduce these change-of-definition deceptions.) A red light camera fine is not "an obligation to pay money arising out of a transaction in which the money, property, insurance, or services which are the subject of the transaction are primarily for personal, family, or household purposes." The fine is not a judgment: No court or other tribunal has resolved a controversy and determined the rights and obligations of the parties.
There also remains the matter that you were never served a notice. ACS mailing you a fine without requiring your own signature to indicate you received the notice, then assuming that you have received the notice, violates civil procedure and section 1 of the 14th Amendment of the United States. The NC Session Law requires that you receive notification before the fine becomes legal and ACS does not provide the instrument by which it can verify your notification.
In the end there are no grounds for ACS to collect. As it has been reported to us, a call to TransUnion and filling out their on-line dispute form will remove the blemish from your record. Here is a letter you can attach to the dispute form. One person had the issue resolved within minutes. Another person called John Sandor, the director of the Safelight Raleigh, and Sandor called TransUnion and had the blemish removed.
Legally TransUnion has 30 days to respond.
If Safelight Raleigh tries to get you to pay the citation by revising the due date on your citation, that is illegal. Safelight Raleigh has overstepped in the enabling statute. If you receive the citation 90 days after the violation, by enabling statute Session Law 2003-380, the citation is void. Period.
If you ignore a Wilmington citation, we know that the City of Wilmington will eventually try to garnish your North Carolina State Tax Refund $100.00; that is, if you have a refund coming. The City of Wilmington uses a little known law to do this: NCGS 105-A. To prevent the City of Wilmington from collecting either do what's in the following paragraph, or do your personal accounting in such a way that you do not get a State Tax Refund.
Wilmington invented a number of contingencies in order to collect from people who claimed never to have received the citation. For example Wilmington has an prepared affidavit saying you were on an extended vacation and did not receive the citation in time. If you sign the affidavit, Wilmington cancels the penalties and resets the clock and makes you pay the original $50. These contingencies are illegal. Wilmington is overstepping North Carolina's enabling statute. Statute Session Law 2003-380 calls a violation not received after 90 days void. The law stops there. The law does not authorize any contingency procedure. Do not sign such an affidavit. If Wilmington insists that you pay, you might have to call the police and have the police force the City of Wilmington to honor the law. (Such a thing happened in a parallel circumstance in the Town of Cary.)
As of July 2013 we know that Knightdale's and Cary's Redflex citations will not hit your credit record. Absolutely nothing happens in the end if you do not pay a Redflex ticket. In October 2013, Knightdale shut down its red light camera program. Cary shut down its program in August 2012.
Who is your Advocate?
The media is your best advocate. These cases of fraud are clear-cut and of public interest. The media generally does not hesitate to expose the fraud.
It is possible to go to the police but there is no long term success in this. The police may take your one isolated citation and force its City's Safelight program to cancel it, but the City will continue defrauding the public. The City will continue to screw everyone else without blinking an eye. For example even after two legal confrontations with Cary over the owner-not-driver issue, Cary choose continue to defraud the public for two additional years. It was only after a Wake County Superior Court judge chastised Cary in court when Cary changed its mind. After hearing Cary's outcome, the Town of Knightdale decided to comply with this law too. Cary and Knightdale both have shutdown their programs.
The NC State of Bureau of Investigation is not your advocate. The Attorney General is not your advocate. They do not get involved in local police matters. The SBI's suggestion is to contact the media.
Fighting the Engineer
The real fight is here. The NCDOT traffic engineer is the problem. The best thing you can do is file a complaint with the North Carolina Board of Engineers (NCBELS) against the traffic engineer who signed and sealed the traffic signal plan for your intersection. Ask the City Clerk for the "current traffic signal plan" for your intersection. The name of the engineer is on the plan. The complaint form requires a witness. We will sign as a witness.
The yellow light durations do not comply with the MUTCD and the engineer does not comply with NCGS 89C.
Violation 1: Steady Yellow Duration Shorter Than Traffic Signal Plan
All yellow light durations in North Carolina fail the MUTCD. MUTCD Sec. 4D.26-01 requires yellow change interval to be a steady yellow light. "Steady" is the key word. The law requires the steady yellow change interval to be at least as long as that written on the signal plan. But NC traffic engineers never account for bulb illumination time. The signal plan may say 4.5 seconds, but the steady part of that yellow time is about 4.3 seconds. North Carolina traffic engineers always short the yellow light by about 0.2 seconds. That mere 0.2 second accounts for about 30% of the red light camera revenue. This video illustrates the problem.
Violation 2: Yellow Not Same Duration Following Protected and Permissive Greens
North Carolina traffic engineers fail the MUTCD when setting the duration of left-turn yellow arrows on those left turn approaches which have both a protected and a permissive green phase. When traveling down a left turn lane, sometimes you get a green arrow. That green arrow is called a protected green: you have the right-of-way. Other times you get either a solid green ball or a flashing yellow arrow. The solid green ball or the flashing yellow is called a permissive green. You can go if you can but you do not have the right-of-way. The NCDOT traffic engineers fail the MUTCD for left turn approaches that have both a protected and permissive phase. The yellow following these phases must be the same duration (MUTCD 4D.17-07, 4D.26-09, 4D.04-3B, 1A.13-258). They do not. NCDOT typically sets the yellow duration after a protected green to 3.0 seconds and the one after the permissive green to 3.8 seconds (35 mph road) or 4.5 seconds (45 mph road). The yellows durations differ during the light cycle for the same yellow light--a direct violation of a MUTCD standard.
Violations of a MUTCD standard are winnable in court. We did not file complaints on these MUTCD violations in Court because we did not know about them at the time of the trial. For our trial, we complained about violations of NCGS 89C.
Every US State and Canadian Province has a clause like "the engineer must know the special knowledge of the physical sciences to do his engineering work." It is the engineers' failure to understand physics which is the root of the red light camera problem--which explains why the entire red light camera sector exists. We explain this problem in the papers on the home page of this web site. A good summary of the problem is in the Oct/Nov 2013 issue of Traffic Technology International.
Though it should be just a matter of fixing a physics mistake, traffic engineers will not even take the time to check their own assumptions and therefore never get to the point where they see their mistake, let alone correct it. When confronted with the mistake, they are instantly dismissive. "We are correct because we have been doing it this way for 50 years." Yet at the same time neither a single traffic engineer knows the math and physics behind their formula nor could name Newton's Laws of Motion. Their depositions testify to these facts.
We took the physics issues to court. The NCDOT basically plugs in the wrong numbers into the wrong formula. Unfortunately we found out the hard way that Wake County Superior Court is not the venue to discuss physics. It is too much to ask a non-scientific though-well-meaning judge to understand physics when the opposition is doing every thing it can to strike the laws of physics. We found that a simple truth gets overshadowed with poker-playing over culpability issues. In the end the judge was too uncomfortable to decide a matter of physics with such far-reaching consequences. He instead used the Town of Cary's culpability argument. That combined with a disparate local ordinance, the judge essentially trumped the laws of physics. So to this day, the problem remains unsolved. The NCDOT continues to harm people and continues to enable cities to capitalize on engineering malpractice.
To make it easier for a judge to come to the right decision, but moreover to solve the engineering problem, we are going to submit one complaint against each traffic engineer to the Board of Engineering. These complaints are not law suits submitted to the Court. These complaints are physics, math, engineering and ethics violations submitted to the North Carolina Board of Engineers. Under NCGS 89C, it is the Board's mandate to discipline engineers over these violations.
NCBELS is the government's empowered final authority on issues of NCGS 89C. Our hope is that NCBELS understands physics. If NCBELS rules that the traffic engineers do not comply with NCGS 89C, then all the red light camera operations in the State become illegal. North Carolina's red light camera law hinges on compliance with NCGS 89C. With such a ruling, we can go back to Court. The heat is now off a Wake County Superior Court judge. The judge can blame NCBELS for his far-reaching decision.
Sign up for an Administrative Hearing
It is possible to fight City Hall?
If you are the owner of the car but were not driving at the time and location of the citation, yes. You can fight City Hall and win. This is how you do it: Without claiming in any fashion that you were the driver of the car, sign up for a hearing. When you go to the hearing, say that you are the owner of the car but were not driving at the time and location on the citation. Do not say anything more than that. Let your lips be sealed. If the Hearing Panel convicts you, then pay the $50 fine and you are now in the legal position to bring a class action lawsuit against the City. Call us. With your involvement we can sue Raleigh or Knightdale for millions of dollars. This "owner not driver" issue can be won. The State statutes and city ordinances are very clear what Raleigh and Knightdale are supposed to do.
If you claim that "I just could not stop or the yellow did not last long enough", or "it was raining" then you are taking the punishment for physics errors made by the NCDOT when it sets yellow light durations. But this claim will get you nowhere. In the case of Ceccarelli vs Town of Cary, Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway used a local ordinance to trump the laws of physics, making it irrelevant whether the NCDOT practiced engineering correctly.
If you pay $50 without appealing your citation, you are guilty in the eyes of the law. You have confessed. You forfeit all legal rights. You can neither appeal your case in Superior Court nor be a representative in a class action.
Raleigh Intersection Problems
There are many engineering problems at all intersections with red light cameras. That is why the red light cameras are there--to exploit the engineering problems. Raleigh has made many mistakes setting yellow light times at all intersections. There exists problems common to every intersection. There exists problems specific to an intersection. We have analyzed only three intersections so far in Raleigh: Here are their specific engineering failures which Raleigh financially exploits at your expense:
|Capital Blvd. (NB) at New Hope Church Rd.|
|New Hope Church Rd. (EB) at Brentwood|
|Peace St. (EB) at West|
We know that NCDOT engineers never measure approach speeds as required by their own spec. Engineers are supposed to set yellow light durations according to the speed of 85th percentile of freely-flowing car speeds, not the posted speed limit. We have not seen a single traffic signal plan where the NCDOT does this. We have measured approach speeds and they have always been greater than the posted speed limit.
We know that for some intersections ACS posts yellow times shorter than that of the signal. On Peace at West street, ACS says the time is 3.79 seconds. The signal plan says the time must be 3.8 seconds. This shortfall violates SL2004-141, and the operation of the red light camera is illegal.
We also know that at some intersections, Raleigh's ACS red light camera software prints false yellow times. The printed times are significantly longer than the signal gives, giving the impression that Raleigh gives you more time than they really do. For instance at Dawson @ Morgan, the printed yellow time is 4.1 seconds but the actual yellow time is 3.8 seconds. 0.3 seconds is the difference between 50 tickets per month and 150 tickets per month.
Raleigh advocates death for its motorists. On Raleigh's web site, there is a section called "Red Light Cameras is Other Cities." Raleigh uses the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) to justify its red light camera program. But IIHS studied Raleigh specifically and reported (p. 14) that the presence of red light cameras increased fatalities in Raleigh by 180%.
Wilmington has the same problems as Raleigh.
For a hearing, call:
|Raleigh Safelight (owned by Xerox)||919-833-2549|
|Wilmington Safelight (owned by ATS)||910-343-4762|
What is Your Defense?
If you sign up for a hearing in Raleigh you have to write down the reason why you feel you are innocent. Either say, "I am not the driver at the time and location on the citation" or write the following. It is true.
"[City] has created a dilemma zone at this intersection. I was in it when the light turned yellow. [City] forced me to run a red light."
When you go to the hearing, face the hearing panel and defend yourself with:
"All intersections have a dilemma zone because the NCDOT formula for yellow light durations sets yellow light durations which oppose the laws of physics. In order for me to obey the law, I have to break laws, unbreakable laws--the laws of physics. I cannot do that. Adjust your yellow light durations so that they are consistent with the physical laws of motions. Then judge me."
Additionally if you are a commercial truck driver, say "I need 2.5 second perception/reaction time for my rig and 0.5 seconds air-brake lag time. That is what the NCDOT CDL Manual requires for truck drivers. Your 3 second left turn yellow leaves me absolutely no time to brake." If you did not turn left, say, "You shorted me 1.5 seconds on the yellow. I am innocent. And you better increase your yellow light duration else I am going to kill someone and charge the City with wrongful death."