New legal challenge to red light cameras

April 7, 2011 7:35:34 PM PDT
A driver who was caught by one of those red light cameras in Daly City took the case to court, and the result might affect future cases.

"The only sign they have is up here heading west," said Scott Conforti, who was nabbed by a camera in February at Pancetta and John Daly Blvd.

Conforti hired lawyer Ellen Mendelson. She claims Daly City's contract with the camera maker Redflex violates the state vehicle code, specifically the regulation of these signs warning drivers there are red light cameras ahead.

"The way the contract is written, Redflex is responsible for inspecting and maintaining it and that violates the law," Mendelson said.

The law indeed states that the responsibility for the signs may not be contracted out to camera makers, that the city must inspect and maintain them.

Last Friday, it went to trial. She says the commissioner agreed with her and dismissed the ticket. Mendelson says other Daly City ticketholders now have a legal reason to fight their cases.

"Anybody who gets one of these tickets in Daly City from April 1 forward should be challenging the ticket vigorously, set the matter for trial, and challenge it based on the contract" she said.

Not so fast says city attorney Rose Zimmerman.

"The city followed all of the requisite steps necessary to assure we are in compliance and that Redflex is in compliance with us and we are not in violation in any way of the the vehicle code," said Zimmerman.

But the city's contract with the vendor says "Redflex shall be solely responsible for installing such signage," and for any fabrication, notices or other postings.

"The way the contract is written, it is not a legal contract," Mendelson said.

Zimmerman contends the commissioner dismissed the ticket on technical grounds related to evidence presented by Redflex and not because of contract issues. Either way, Conforti feels vindicated.

"We're all supposed to be following the rules," Conforti said. "The guys making the money should have to follow the same rules same as the guys paying the money."

Who's right? The lawyer or the city attorney? The commissioner declined to talk about the case, saying it might prejudice other cases coming before her. It may take another legal challenge by someone else to find out how this all plays out for others cited at that intersection in Daly City.


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