Government Spending

The Light Was Pink, Officer!

In defense of a new Massachusetts law forcing people to pay for their own traffic hearings

|

Who among us, upon receiving a traffic ticket, hasn't shaken an angry fist at the sky (ideally after the police officer has left the scene) and cried "I'm going to contest this ticket." The gesture is bracing after the degrading scene of being pulled over for exceeding the speed limit by a measly 11 mph—"Do you know how fast you were going, ma'am?"—or zipping through a pinkish light. The intent to challenge gives the person left clutching a ticket a sense of purpose. Justice can and will be restored. It's the American way. All it will take is some sticktoitiveness (a real word, by the way).

But things took a turn for quarrelsome Massachusetts residents last week, when Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill into law allowing the Commonwealth to charge a $25 fee for each traffic hearing. This means that if you challenge a ticket in Massachusetts and win, you still owe The Man the price of two large bacon cheeseburger pizzas from Domino's. Somehow, the notion that justice now demands sticktoitiveness and $25 has a less appealing ring to it.

Vanishingly few of those who proclaim their intentions to fight their traffic ticket actually do it, of course. In our hearts, we traffic violators often know that the policeman is right when he says we were going 66 in a 55 mph zone. Also, we are lazy. But those who do schlep down to the courthouse for a hearing are American heroes, fighting for everyone who has ever gotten screwed by a twitchy red light camera, a broken parking meter, or a cop trying to wrap up a ticket quota.

So is charging for a hearing unfair? Well, not entirely. People have always borne costs for their traffic hearings. Right now, most people pay in time off from work, the cost of travel, and perhaps even the cost of parking at the courthouse. Appeals in Massachusetts have long cost $20 if you want to upgrade from a clerk magistrate to a gen-u-ine judge. Everyone pays for automobile-related services indirectly through things like fees for vehicle tags and inspections.

But the same people who hand over 5.3 percent of their income to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in taxes every year balk at a $25 fee for service. Why? Because it feel like you're paying twice. Once in taxes, and again in fees. Three times, really, if you think the cost of administering a ticket is already built into the ticket.

In the end, money pouring into the state's coffers is fungible. The state of California has already taken the idea of tacking fees onto parking tickets to impressive heights. In the Golden State, a ticket for running a red light can include a $20 court security fee to keep the state's courtrooms safe—even if the offender never sets foot in a courtroom—and an additional $35 fee to be paid upon conviction. The Redding Record Searchlight reports on one case where a speeding ticket for going 39 mph in a 25 mph zone netted a fine of $386, including a $120 processing fee. All of which may seem ridiculous.

But charging a fee for a service means that people will think twice about using it. Think toll roads and medical co-pays here. The Massachusetts law isn't governed by the loser pays principle, however, an oversight that should be remedied. If Massachusetts has falsely accused someone of committing a crime, then Massachusetts should foot the bill. But those who are inclined to challenge tickets just for the heck of it should pay for their afternoon's amusement in the halls of the courthouse. Charging a fee for ticket challenges means that the more meaningful challenges are likely to get through, while the cris de coeur remain confined to the interiors of our sedans.

Litigation, they say, is the national pastime, but contesting traffic tickets is the poor man's version of that pricey sport. And there is something pleasing—and pleasingly American—about marching into the courthouse (OK, more likely to be a lowly clerk's office), ticket in hand, indignation at the ready. I once challenged a jaywalking ticket, just to see what would happen. My defense was "Really!? Jaywalking? Seriously?" I wasted everyone's time, and lost. My fine increased. Fair enough.

Katherine Mangu-Ward is an associate editor at Reason magazine.

NEXT: In Praise of the Pocketknife, In Not-Praise of TSA

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I have successfully challenged a speeding ticket in MA. Of course, my hearing was four years after the ticket (I got it at 16 years old and received the court date at 20), so the cop never showed, but still–I won.

    The idea that I would have had to pay $25 for that regardless is insulting. Fuck you, Patrick, you Masshole.

  2. KMW – no, just no. Taxes pay for the courts already, and what this really does is make challenging a ticket a luxury. if anything, you’re incentivizing the state to hand out more tickets due to the lucrative nature and the lack of challenges.

  3. Traffic court is the essence of “sham court”.

  4. fucked if you do, doubly fucked if you don’t

  5. The fee has been $5.00 in PA for at least less than 100 years.

  6. Yea, right Katherine Mangu Ward, you have just slipped a notch in my libertarian heroes handbook.

    Sure, you threw in that final caveat about not having to pay if you win, but hey, the horses already left the barn, and the TARP is already on the field!

    First of all, under a true constitutional regime, there is NO reason to have a drivers license for purely private driving. And no reason to fine anyone who does not actually harm person or property.

    Next thing you know, you will be defending Zoning and preemptive war!

  7. Domino’s?

    For shame.

  8. yes, absolutely, i wouldn’t mind telling you the story. erm…i went to court today for a speeding ticket, and i told the judge, erm…”let me tell you something, and you listen and you listen good, i’m only gonna say this one time and one time only, i don’t repeat myself for nobody,” i said. i says…”i’m here to pay a speeding ticket, not to listen to your lectures and hear you run your mouth for an hour.” i says “i’m here to pay off my speeding ticket…and i’m here to get my fines out of the way and get the fuck to work.” the judge says “you can’t talk like that in my courtroom, you’re in contempt of court.” then i said…i told the judge, “if that’s the best you can do, i feel sorry for you.” i said “why don’t you just shut your fucking mouth for once and listen.” i said “i’m not gonna take any shit.” i said “i’m gonna pay my speeding ticket like i said.” i walked up to the god damn judge and i hand him my 25 dollars and i says “here’s my money, now i am leaving.” and i left it at that… then, before i left, i turned around and told the judge “i’m here to state who i am and be honest with you.” i said “if they thought i was dangerous on the road like you’re trying to accuse me of, wouldn’t they have taken my license when i first got it? yes they would. and the judge says “yeah, you have a point,” he goes “you don’t need to get loud,” i said “don’t get loud?” i says “i’ve got every right to get loud.” i says “you can’t do a god damn thing about it, because i’m expressing myself in your court, and there is nothing you can do about it. you think you’re god because you have a robe and you can put people up the god damn river for 20 years? well you’re not.”
    and i left it at that…

  9. How about they reimburse me for my waste my time challenging a bullshit quota and revenue seeking practice. After working for a municipality for just shy of 10 years (all I could take) I can say with out question that most of the municipalities around here use light cameras and ticketing as a source of revenue first and safety last. There’s a reason the traffic light camera is at the highest traveled intersection, more accidents there right? No more cares, which will translate into a larger gross accident count, but an often smaller per vehicle accident rate. How about officers? Why are officers sitting on major thoroughfares and not residential areas to protect the more vulnerable citizens. Because you can catch more people where there is more traffic and you can generate more revenue.

    In the great state of MO any fines collected by municipalities exceeding 45% of the municipalities total revenue must send the excess to the state. How many times do you want to guess the backwoods shithole municipalities manage to hit just over 45% So great now they rape you up to 45% of their revenue and then the state can rape everyone after that.

  10. While Reason discusses traffic tickets, you can read what Reason is going to cover a few weeks from now today: a push to keep “hate groups” out of the military lets the AG define “hate” and doesn’t just include those that are violent but “extremist” groups as well.

  11. BZZZZZZZ Sorry that’s wrong. But thank you for playing.

    Traffic tickets are a tax. People don’t challenge them because the US Judicial System is a protection racket for lawyers. You can not come out ahead by going to court. The best you can do is pay the graft to some lawyer so as not to pay it to the state, or not to have points on your license, or whatever.

    Go into court representing yourself and you’ll bet rubber stamped on through, no better, and possibly worse, than when you came in. Pay off the Organized Crime Syndicate known as the legal profession and you can negotiate for terms, the more you pay, the better your negotiator.

    The $25 is just another tax.

  12. Lonewacko – good to see your masturbator’s wrist has healed sufficiently to allow you to use the internet. Now shut the fuck up.

  13. NJ has a $3 “convenience fee” if you pay a ticket online. Its convenient for you too, i tried to point out, but since the courts are only open on alternate Thursdays from 1:00-1:15 I guess it is mostly for me.

  14. and i left it at that…

    Nice GY!BE reference, guy.

    Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko.

  15. Warren, your anarchist rhetoric is cute and probably superficially satisfying, but, like candy, the sugar buzz wears off quickly and you realize that it’s nothing but empty calories.

  16. “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”
    You have to pay even if you’re found not guilty? This is unconstitutional.

  17. Chrispy – it’s because most traffic tickets aren’t about guilt or innocence. they’re akin to citations for zoning violations.

  18. This is objectionable for two reasons:

    1) If the state mistakenly charges you, and you prove that and get the ticket expunged, you are still forced to pay. If you were only charged if you challenged the ticket and lost, meh, I’d be OK with discouraging frivolous challenges like that.

    2) A more libertarian form of governance would be to have the people who use government services pay for them. But, this isn’t some proposal to revamp how the state pays for operations, with existing general taxes being abolished in favor of solely financing services with fees targeted at the actual consumers of services. This is just another tax increase on top of all the existing taxes people pay.

  19. Chrispy said what I came in here to say.

    It blatantly violates the 5th amendment.

  20. The Angry Optimist,

    then by the 5th amendment, no person is obligated to pay a dime for any of it.

  21. First of all, under a true constitutional regime, there is NO reason to have a drivers license for purely private driving. And no reason to fine anyone who does not actually harm person or property.

    Ummm, are you seriously suggesting that people can drive while drunk off their ass, or fire bullets at you, and so long as they fail to collide with your car or miss with the bullets, no harm no foul?

    There definitely should be consequences for doing things that drastically raise the probability of harming others. This is completely compatible with the principle of non-initiation of force.

  22. First of all, under a true constitutional regime, there is NO reason to have a drivers license for purely private driving. And no reason to fine anyone who does not actually harm person or property.

    Ummm, are you seriously suggesting that people can drive while drunk off their ass, or fire bullets at you, and so long as they fail to collide with your car or miss with the bullets, no harm no foul?

    There definitely should be consequences for doing things that drastically raise the probability of harming others. This is completely compatible with the principle of non-initiation of force.

  23. WTF?

    If the state needs some extra cash, then the cops can give anybody they see in public a fine for $25?

    Sheesh.

    KMW is either very stupid or is getting kickbacks.

  24. Great idea!

    Next we can charge for misdemeanor criminal trials, $5000.

    Then we can chage for felony trials, $50,000.

    Don’t have it? Guess your guilty. I guess this just cuts out the mere illusion of justice we have left.

  25. prolefeed – the risk comes with risky driving, not with being drunk. I will state that a “friend” of mine has driven intoxicated probably 1,000 times and has never violated a single traffic law or caused a single accident. Why should my friend be punished for the incidence of a statistically meaningless BAC?

  26. There definitely should be consequences for doing things that drastically raise the probability of harming others.

    True, but the possession or nonpossession of the license has no material impact on how someone drives. They’re either driving safely or driving recklessly, whether they have a license or not.

    That being said, driver’s license regimes make sense to me because the state owns the roads.

    On the subject at hand here, this fee has to violate either the 5th or 7th Amendments. If you walk into a courtroom and walk out owing someone $25, that’s either a criminal fine or a civil judgment, and calling it a “fee” insults my intelligence. If it’s a criminal fine, the 5th Amendment is violated because you’re being fined despite not being found guilty. If it’s a civil judgment, the 7th amendment is violated because it exceeds $20 and no jury trial was provided.

  27. I cannot think of a better use of my time then to waste the state’s time and resources in a costly courtroom case for my 9mph-over speeding ticket. I don’t care if I am guilty as sin, I will use every trick I can think of to drag that court action out as long as possible.

    I suspect this article is trying to point out our over-litigiousness as a country, and surely that is something we need to fix. But this is the STATE’S litigiousness (through speeding tickets and other bullshit revenue-generators) against its own CITIZENS like you and me! And who wants to encourage that kind of behavior?

  28. I suspect this article is trying to point out our over-litigiousness as a country, and surely that is something we need to fix.

    No, I think it’s more of a play on the more anarchistic side of libertarianism, which holds that there shouldn’t be state-run courts, and we should all go to private courts instead. From that perspective, making people pay to use the court system is a good thing, because it starts to establish the principle of courts run on a fee-for-service basis.

    Since I’m a minarchist, I hold that one of the only legitimate purposes for the existence of the state is the application of justice, and also hold that every citizen should be able to petition for that application merely by virtue of being a citizen and nothing else. Whatever tax system we come up with, charging to use the courts should not be part of it. [Neither should poll taxes.]

  29. It should be kept in mind that the entire traffic ticket mechanism in Massachusettes is a money making machine. 35 m.p.h. highways? 55 m.p.h. freeways? Ticket quotas? Now the state doesn’t even have to be in the “right” to make money. The cradle of liberty has become the home of triple taxation.

  30. “Go into court representing yourself and you’ll bet rubber stamped on through, no better, and possibly worse, than when you came in.”

    I beg to differ. In my personal experience, 100% of my tickets (which number 1) have been expunged completely because of one 5 minute court appearance I made all by myself. Based on my anecdotal knowledge of other people’s experiences, it seems that you have a pretty good chance of beating a ticket if you go to court because of the frequency with which the cops do not show up.

  31. Once you accept the premise of charging innocent people for defending themselves, you are opening the door to increasing that price and for cops to hand out tickets and arrest innocent people as a revenue source.

    Why not just let cops hand out random fees for $25 to whoever they want? Same thing really.

  32. I don’t like this either, but under the current laws driving is considered a privilege not a right. By accepting a drivers license and/or registering a vehicle, you authorize the state to do a whole host of things that would be unconstitutional if they were just picking random people on the street, such as coerce you to give samples for alcohol testing, and levy fines which cannot be challenged in criminal court (such as parking tickets).

  33. “The Massachusetts law isn’t governed by the loser pays principle, however, an oversight that should be remedied.”

    THIS IS THE LEDE>

    The balance is suspiciously ‘man bites dog.’

    I mean, assuming the aforementioned ‘oversight’ somehow goes unremedied, doesn’t your entire position change?

  34. The world of Mexican midget wrestling was rocked to its tiny foundations this week, when a pair of pint-sized, twin performers were murdered — apparently by poison-wielding hookers they met in a sleazy bar.

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/07042009/news/worldnews/midget_mystery_177522.htm

  35. I will not claim to scrupulously follow traffic law, for the overwhelming majority of traffic tickets I have received the police officer has been in error, usually substantialy in error, and always to my disadvantage. While I have won some of these, and mitigated others – usually to something approximately the violation that I was actually committing, I have been constantly amazed at the extent to which facts and physics are maleable in traffic court. Roads that change in width as necescary, police vehicles that can accelerate from 0-150Mph in under 7s, …

  36. In San Diego my friend and two of her roomates each got a $1000 noise violation ticket (a total of $3000) for a single incident. To challenge the fine would cost them $1500 in court fees. My friend that was a lawyer tried to explain how this wasn’t denial of due process once, but I never really got it…

  37. Where’d the picture of Dudley Douchebag come from?

  38. If a poll tax is an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, how are these fees not an unconstitutional burden on due process?

  39. Wait a minute, does this mean blowing a cop doesn’t get you a pass anymore?

  40. Headshake

    So is charging for a hearing unfair? Well, not entirely.

    “But charging a fee for a service means that people will think twice about using it. Think toll roads and medical co-pays here.”

    So a fee whose sole purpose is to discourage people from exerting their due process rights isn’t inherently unfair. Interesting take on liberty.

  41. In old Soviet Union, you pay for hearing that contests YOU!

  42. THe 25 dollar fee is just horrid. there already is a fee built into a court apperance if you loose, its called court costs. you can pay a ticket for 125.00 or you can go to court and challenge. if you win, you owe nothing and have lost only a days vacation. but, if you loose, you owe the 125.oo for the ticket + court costs of like 30-50 bucks or so. never lost a challenge, so i dont know the amount, but i have heard it mentioned numerous times for the poor schleps that plead out. a little trick of traffic court is…. if you only have a minor ticket. they will usually (5 for 5 in my life) dismiss it if you go to court. it takes a while. they will call your name, the da or asst da will talk to you, ask you if you want to plead quitly. all you do is say no sir i am not quilty of this because…… you will be sent back to the court, a while later you and everyone else who wants to challenge will be sectioned off. after the rest htough. they will then try take you into the back and try to plea you down that 125 speeding fine wants to be a 50 non moving violation now. and now you have em. refuse and say, no i am not pleading to anything, i am innocent. you will then most likely have it dismissed. everytime my record was clean. evertime they dismissed and said be more careful, watch the red lights, slow down etc. seems in my jusridiction traffic court cases that do not plead quitly or accept a lesser ticket, are brought back to a trail judge after the criminal docet is finished. due to this. the DA’s really dont want to keep a judge and themselves over for 100 traffic cases in the late afternoon. so they just dismiss them. i always laugh so hard when i see idiots paying fines. in my 32 years i had to pay 1 ticket. i gave the DA at the time 200 and he made a reckless operation go away, not on the record, he called later and said he “lost the paperwork and to not worry about it (wink wink nudge nudge). coursse i knew his daughter, but still. traffic court is the most corrupt fucked up system there is, and easy to play if you know thier game.

  43. Damn Katherine,

    What about the good ol’ (sensible) principle that, if the state wants to punish you for your behavior, then it has to earn it?

    I used to do traffic court arraignments for a small western city (much to my displeasure). Sometimes people’s complaints were silly. Some were not. However, I always believed that the people were entitled to come in and have their rights and charges explained to them since they stood to be punished by fine, points assigned against their license, and attendant increases in insurance costs.

    The “carrot” to get people to not come in–and in common use everywhere–is to decrease the penalty if the person decides to just mail in the fine and plead guilty.

  44. prolefeed – the risk comes with risky driving, not with being drunk. I will state that a “friend” of mine has driven intoxicated probably 1,000 times and has never violated a single traffic law or caused a single accident. Why should my friend be punished for the incidence of a statistically meaningless BAC?

    TAO — How intoxicated is your friend when he or she drives? Because of the frickin’ prohibitionists at MADD, the BAC levels for being legally drunk are way too low.

    When I drive with some alcohol in my system, I drive way more cautiously than usual, so I pose no more of a risk than an average driver, and probably considerably less.

    I would submit, though, that there is some level of BAC at which you are so impaired that you pose a substantially higher risk of causing an accident no matter how carefully you drive. But, .08 ain’t it.

  45. Why isn’t the cop charged the $25 instead when the defendant is found innocent? If that isn’t an incentive for cops to NOT harass drivers with phony charges, and for guilty divers to not bog down the courts, I don’t know what is!

    As it stands, the $25 charge is a deterrent to any who would want to contest their ticket. It protects the state while penalizing the innocent. Not even a “private” court can rationally think it’s okay to charge the winning side for…well…winning. That is not Justice.

  46. That being said, I highly suggest this article be deleted from the Reason website by its administrators.

  47. So, I take it you were totally on board with Palin charging victims for their rape kits, right? I mean, if they want to accuse a man of rape, they ought to be willing to pay for a little evidence collection, no? Surely the police would get a lot fewer time-wasting false rape allegations, right? And if they don’t have the money, well, they were probably asking for it anyway, dressed so provocatively in their tattered rags…

    You’re disgusting, Mangu-Ward.

  48. And another thing! Talk about solipsism! You think just because your lame ass jaywalking case amounted to a waste of everyone’s time, that means no one else ever got a BULLSHIT ticket they didn’t deserve just so a cop could make his quota or have an excuse to harass a minority and search their car on a flimsy pretext?

    What fucking universe do you live in? NEWS FALSH! Katherine Mangu-Ward is not actually the center of the universe!

    This is the worst article in Reason since that other dipshit argued in favor of the Federal drinking age!

  49. Nice one, hmm. That made my day. You missed this forgotten Ice T classic, however:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSvD5SM_uI4

  50. If a poll tax is an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, how are these fees not an unconstitutional burden on due process?

    Probably because there is no right to drive in the Constitution. The same reason I’m not entitled to get a jury trial for a $25 parking ticket.

  51. In NYC, there is NO PLEA BARGAINs for any traffic office. All cases are TRY-OR-PLEA GUILTY to the TICKET. And the judges pretty much find everyone guilty.

    The only way u can get away is if you get a lawyer ($150) and he talks to the cop and has him leave the room when you case is called….and the case is dismissed.

    In the rest of NY State and in NJ State, the moving violations are a sham. If you get caught doing 80mph in a 55mph zone…the ticket is usually downgraded to a NO POINT NO SPEED office costing about $200.00. This goes to the municipality. The face value of this ticket is about $85.00. So, virtually any municipality will give you the plea.

    It may seem odd paying $350 ($150 lawyer + $200 file) for a speeding ticket instead of $85.00. However, the colateral consequences of points and surcharges and the insurance premiums going up makes this a deal

  52. AND YOU MUST HAVE A LAWYER…preferrably from the municipality the ticket is heard. Or else, they won’t give you the same deal.

  53. Probably because there is no right to drive in the Constitution. The same reason I’m not entitled to get a jury trial for a $25 parking ticket.

    In US v. Butler the SCOTUS held that it is unconstitutional for the state to use the offering and withholding of benefits to achieve what it would be unconstitutional for it to achieve through direct action. Unfortunately, this extremely sensible decision was watered down by subsequent New Deal rulings. There’s no right to drive, but if a state decided to make it a condition of getting a driver’s license that you sign a statement waiving all of your enumerated rights under all circumstances for all time [including, say, the freedom of religion, the right to not have troops quartered in your home, and the free to be free of cruel and unusual punishment] it would clearly be unconstitutional. So why are the 5th and 7th amendments any different?

  54. “The light had dopplered to green, Officer!”

  55. You know… I mean, not that Reason has been very libertarian of late… but this, this is probably hands-down the most bewildered excuse for an article I’ve ever read here. Seriously.

    Even the resident advocate for exposing everyone else to his cancerous smoke emissions does better than this.

    I will grant you that collusion between the shysters and the courts have always made a trip into the legal system one that is highly biased in favor of those with considerable funds to spend… but to actually advocate for even further loading down the accused financially in a (supposedly) libertarian context?

    For shame, Reason. For shame.


  56. Probably because there is no right to drive in the Constitution. The same reason I’m not entitled to get a jury trial for a $25 parking ticket.

    These tickets may have the same consequence as JAIL in areas where u need your car to get around.

  57. Pink? The light was ORANGE, officer!

  58. I have appeared four times in court on traffic violations, twice in mitigation, twice to contest.

    The first outright contesting of the ticket came out completely in my favor, with the judge lecturing the prosecutor and dismissing the charges. In the second, I got off easy after making an elaborate argument from Sam Peltzman’s theory of risk homeoestasis. The judge shook his head. He said that, in all his years on the bench he’d never heard an argument in traffic court like it. In response to my argument he gave me an option to which I was not, by law, legally entitled to, but which reduced my ticket down to a small amount.

    Later I saw that latter judge at the movies. He talked all the way through the flick, the indecent bastard.

  59. Massachusetts is notorious for speed traps. And this will just make it far worse.

    I still remember how good it felt beating a ticket I got there. It was almost worth getting the ticket.

  60. I like how somebody at a Libertarian organization is actually promoting the idea of fining innocent people.

    I mean, that is what we’re talking about here. You’re charged with a misdemeanor crime; you challenge the crime; you’re found innocent of the crime; now, apparently, you’re FINED for being innocent.

    I shouldn’t have to further remind you that matters of $25 or more can legally demanded to be determined via trial by jury according to the US Constitution. That’s just sure to reduce “utilization” of the court system, people being able to challenge their $25 innocence fine via trial by jury….

  61. KMG – wouldn’t a loser pays system be more fair? if you challenge and lose, then you pay the $25.

  62. The BAC has to be set to a low level because some arbitrary line had to be made. 0.08 is smashed for some people.

    If there wasn’t just a clear number it would be a mess, and would require a doctor to evaluate every DUI. Its not overly burdensome to wait an hour after having a drink in any case.

  63. I’m very disappointed in this opinion piece. You should be writing about taking power away from the gov’t instead of giving them more.

  64. This piece is STILL here?! Reason, c’mon. Take it down.

  65. I take it you were totally on board with Palin charging victims for their rape kits, right?

    I take it you like to randomly assign positions to other people and them bitch at them for your speculation, right?

    BTW, the rape kit thing is a debunked myth. Look it up.

    -jcr

  66. No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

  67. Once got a red light ticket.

    Went back to the intersection took some pics. Before the cellphone days

    Checked out the DMV code

    Went to court

    Asked the cop one question.

    Judge thru the cop and the case out.

    No charge not even for parking at the court.

  68. 1) Any person , whether or not a citizen or resident of this State , who in person or through an agent does any of the acts hereinafter enumerated, thereby submits such person , and if an individual, his personal representative, to the jurisdiction of the courts of this State as to any causes of action arising from the doing of any of said acts:

    (a) The transaction of any business within this State ;
    (b) The commission of a tortious act within this State ;
    (c) The ownership, use, or possession of any real estate situated in this State ; or
    (d) Contracting to insure any person, property, or risk located within this State at the time of contracting

  69. “The BAC has to be set to a low level because some arbitrary line had to be made.”

    No it doesn’t. Charge people who drive recklessly with driving recklessly, regardless of their state of consciousness or whatever other reason led them to endanger others.

    “0.08 is smashed for some people.”

    Small children, for example.

    “If there wasn’t just a clear number it would be a mess, and would require a doctor to evaluate every DUI. Its not overly burdensome to wait an hour after having a drink in any case.”

    In Minneapolis, last call is at 1:45 and the bars close at 2:00. I don’t know what neighborhood your favorite watering hole is in, but there are some bars around here which I would NOT care to hang around in front of for 45 minutes after close.

  70. Feh. Speed traps are just another tax.

    I could never defend adding extra difficulty and cost to those who fight these ridiculous charges. What part of the no-harm principle does 74 in a 70 violate, friends?

  71. I have a big problem with this law. It penalizes the innocent. A “ticket” is a bailment to appear in court. If you do and are declared innocent of the charges, then conversely the charges were false. If anything the officer should pay for making a false arrest.

    I was issued a ticket for an accident that was completely the other guy’s fault. The cop broke almost every investigative rule in the POST book and ignored important road markings and broken signal equipment in his report. I proved my case and won. It took about a week of my time. If at the end of that I had to pay up anyway I might feel a wee bit victimized.

  72. Conflict of interest,
    The court makes money even if the ticket is completely bogus. Imagine the line, “Oh, sure Mr Armstrong, undoubtedly you were on the moon. We all watched that on the news. Now just pay your 25$ court fee and we will through out the running-a-red-light ticket”.

    Bogus justice,

  73. Warren says

    “Traffic tickets are a tax. People don’t challenge them because the US Judicial System is a protection racket for lawyers. You can not come out ahead by going to court. The best you can do is pay the graft to some lawyer so as not to pay it to the state, or not to have points on your license, or whatever.

    Go into court representing yourself and you’ll bet rubber stamped on through, no better, and possibly worse, than when you came in. Pay off the Organized Crime Syndicate known as the legal profession and you can negotiate for terms, the more you pay, the better your negotiator.

    The $25 is just another tax.”

    What do you expect when the system is run by lawyers?
    Lawyers make the laws, they make sure all judges are lawyers, they appoint lawyers to decision making positions in government, lawyers run the show.

    Of course they are going to create a system where people are dependent upon them.

    Duh.

  74. If you are innocent of allegation, you should not have to pay ANYTHING. The cost to the judges’ budget is a powerful incentive for him/her to reprimand and correct officers who are issuing bad tickets.

  75. I think MA could take a lesson from CT. In CT if you get a ticket you have two choices – pay it within 15 days and you get no “points”, or should you choose to contest it you go to court. If you are found guilty, points are applied and you still pay the fine.

    They should give people a bennefit for NOT challenging a ticket as opposed to surcharging those who do.

  76. libtree and Warren already covered the main points very well, but I’ll add this: KMW is presuming guilt. Naughty KMW! …or maybe — it’s time to get that check-up she’s been postponing. What kind of brain disease causes statist thinking, anyway?

  77. I demand my 7th Amendment right to a jury trial over matters where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars.

  78. Ahem:

    “No State shall . . . deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” – 14th Amendment, section 1.

    I generally agree that most things we get, we have to pay for. But not this. Due process (i.e. the right to a hearing challenging government action before an impartial decisionmaker) that you have to pay a non-refundable fee for is not due process, particularly if you’re one of those people who may not have $25 to spare without skipping a few meals. You’re supposed to get due process as a matter of right. This is one of the (few) things public tax dollars rightfully go towards.

  79. Some Dude:

    That only applies to civil cases in federal court.

  80. What an awesome idea. Do you know how much money they can make off this? You would only need a couple cops to just pull over every car it can and give tickets to every single one all day everyday. Makes no difference if they are guilty of anything at all. Who cares right? Guaranteed 25 bucks a pop. They could easily generate a few thousand $$$ a day – BRILLIANT!

  81. So first the Legislation passes a law that Massachusetts will follow the federal engineering standards and set the speed limits to what 85% of motorists drive. Then they let municipalities, MassHighway Dept. and most notably the DCR deliberately, consistently and intentionally break this law and post speed limits which are lower, making lawbreakers out of the majority of motorists. And now just in time for the Fourth of July – a drumroll please – they pass a bill that from now on, it will cost you $75 WIN OR LOSE, to exercise your right and see a judge when you get accused of breaking the law. And during the whole process they lie to our faces this is about safety. Happy birthday, America!

  82. HEY! Just because a “word” is listed in an online ‘dictionary’ does not give it legitimacy in the English language. Likewise, just because neurotic mom’s and grammar school teachers combine three words with a suffix does not mean the lexicon is updated as it were with Lewis Carroll. See: ‘irregardless’ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/irregardless and ‘grody.’ Sticktoitiveness is a BS, anti-intellectual, non-word means of expressing an idea that already has a dozen different ways to be articulated. See: perseverance.

    I suppose the minds and markets are so free at Reason that this asinine gibberish has been ascribed its own value. Speak organic!

  83. Reason Magazine is a sorry and pathetic excuse of a “libertarian” news outlet. What a bunch of mindless, statist, collectivist drivel. For shame, Katherine.

  84. I will just add to the list of people who are appalled that this article not only appeared on the Reason website, but that it was actually written by an associate editor. Due process is a right. I thought that’s what this magazine was about.

  85. Jesus… This raises the bar in the ‘worst article on Reason’ competition.

  86. Wow, this is what I’ve been missing since I’ve been away? Guess I’ll continue working on my golf swing and hope that reason’s got it right in a few months.

  87. Hey grammar police — You might want to hit a continuing education class on the use of the apostrophe.

  88. This article is absolute codswallop.

    It makes me think I’ve stumbled into that alternate reality from the old “Mirror, Mirror” episode of Star Trek. Will my next print issue of Reason have an evil goatee?

  89. “But, indeed, no private person has a right to complain, by suit in court, on the ground of a breach of the Constitution. The Constitution, it is true, is a compact, but he is not a party to it. The States are the parties to it. And they may complain. If they do they are entitled to redress. Or they may waive the right to complain.”
    – padlesford cases

  90. I don’t get the uproar in the comments.

    These people are being appropriately fined for their crime of being accused of a crime. Clearly being accused of a crime is in and of itself a criminal action in America; they’re just lucky they didn’t get a bigger fine for being accused of a crime.

    What do you want? Do you want people accused of a crime to walk free if they’re found innocent? to simply get away with being accused of a crime with no punishment given?

    If you encourage people to be accused of a crime with no punishment then everyone may be accused of a crime. Clearly to limit the number of people accused of crimes; we need to punish people for being accused.

    At least Katherine understands that being accused of a crime is criminal and deserving of punishment.

  91. Wow, Kathrine, I couldn’t disagree with you more. Reasons should be clear from all the other dissenting comments.

  92. Would it still be a good idea if it were a day/week/month/year in jail instead of $25?

    I really like Reason, but this article is antithetical to the spirit of this magazine/website.

  93. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke

  94. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.