April 12, 2007
Next time, run a red light

Ken Hoffman has a problem.

I received a notice in the mail last week from the Texas Department of Transportation. It said a video camera caught me running three toll gates in Denton while driving my Ford Taurus in March.

The fee was 60 cents each time, plus a $1 penalty, so I owe $2.80. Send payment to Texas Tollways, 12719 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78727.

I guess I was lost, because first I ran the toll at Old Denton Tap Road heading north, then the same toll heading south, then the same toll heading north again -- all within eight minutes.

There's just one problem -- actually a whole bunch of problems. I don't own a Ford Taurus. I have never owned a Ford Taurus. I have never owned any car with the license plate listed on the TxDOT notice.

I have three words for you, Ken: Call Michael Kubosh. He won't be of much help, but maybe he'll file another lawsuit to forbid the use of cameras for toll enforcement.

(For what it's worth, the procedure for dealing with an erroneous red light camera violation is much simpler.)

Fortunately for Hoffman, the problem is now resolved.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 12, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

(For what it's worth, the procedure for dealing with an erroneous red light camera violation is much simpler.)

Not, it's really not. Here's the procedure, as described in the PDF you linked:

If you were not driving the vehicle when the violation was
committed, you may submit a DECLARATION OF NONLIABILITY.
This form may be downloaded from
www.ViolationInfo.com or obtained from the Court. The
form must be completed in its entirety and hand-delivered by
the person to the Court prior to the Notice due date. This
form CANNOT be mailed.

Since Hoffman was able to resolve his problem on the phone, and didn't actually have to waste time driving to some central location, paying for parking, and dealing with the public bureaucracy in person, I'd say his problem was easier to resolve. By comparison, heading downtown to deal with the red-light bureaucrats during public bureaucrat hours when they've made a mistake doesn't sound like much fun.

Such blunders (and accompanying inconvenience) are part of the due-process objection to such automated enforcement mechanisms (as opposed to cops writing tickets). While they may well be necessary for purposes of efficiency, it can be a real pain for the person who is nailed wrongly. Hoffman has supported the red-light-camera enforcement mechanism on the radio (KPRC). He probably never thought that he'd ever be wrongly accused by such a mechanism. Because, you know, government never makes mistakes. (bwahahahhahaha!) :)

Posted by: kevin whited on April 12, 2007 8:13 AM

Apparently, I have a similar problem.

My car has a tolltag and the license plates that were changed over a year ago (and duly reported to TX DoT's toll people).

And yet, we have a lovely photo of my car and a request to pay a fine. Inquiries resulted in a quick "I'llfixitdon'tworryaboutit" and a hang-up.

Maybe they're having a bad year.

Posted by: NicoleAllee on April 12, 2007 10:33 AM

What do you think about using EZTag timestamps for speed limit enforcement (law of averages)?

Posted by: ian on April 12, 2007 10:46 AM

Did you miss the part where Hoffman describes his futile attempts to get someone on the phone who could help him, Kevin, or did you just choose to ignore it?

Compared to that, you're damn right I say the Houston process is simpler. It may not be more convenient, but at least you know what you have to do. I'll take that over Automated Voice Response Bingo any day.

Ian - Short answer, I do not support that.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on April 12, 2007 11:07 AM

Couple minor points - the $1.00 fee Hoffman referenced is the monthly invoice fee that TxDOT applies to folks who do not have some sort of transponder TxDOT-TxTag, HCTRA-EZ Tag, or NTTA-TollTag. It is not a fine or adminsirative fee like you see when you get dinged for running booths on HCTRA or NTTA facilities. Either way, quite the mess he describes.

Also, what Ian describes is currently prohibited under state law.

Posted by: Trafficnerd on April 12, 2007 11:14 AM

This stuff gets used to snipe at government and, by extension,to get at our abilty to govern ourselves in a civilized way.

Of course mistakes will be made. That's the human race for you. The agressive driving in Houston is far more a threat than any flaws in the process.

Where is my due process when I'm bullied time and time again by agressive drivers who use their so-called freedom to impose their concept of highway as NASCAR course on the majority of law-abiding drivers?

Posted by: TexasLiberal on April 12, 2007 12:01 PM

"...a video camera caught me running three toll gates in Denton..."

Not that it really matters, but these violations apparently occurred at the intersection of Denton Tap Road and the George Bush Turnpike, which is actually in Carrollton. Denton has no toll roads.

Posted by: Thomas on April 12, 2007 7:14 PM

Not that it really matters, but the tolls he was referencing were on SH 121 (A TxDOT toll road) in Denton County, not the George Bush Turnpike. The giveaway is the $1.00 fee he referenced. Had he been on The George Bush Turnpike (an NTTA facility) there would have been a $25 to $75 administrative fee tacked on to the tolls instead of the $1.00 invoice fee.

Posted by: Trafficnerd on April 13, 2007 12:40 AM