Carrollton and Dallas, Texas are both being targeted by a lawsuit that claims the cities have overstepped their legal boundaries when it comes to civilian surveillance and law enforcement. The lawsuit has stated that both cities have installed illegal traffic cameras on several school buses to monitor drivers in adjacent lanes and catch them in the act of violating traffic laws; in particular, it seems the cameras are directed towards the driver’s side of the bus to record people illegally passing a school bus as it picks up or drops off children. It is believed that the ordinance decision to install and use the school bus cameras has been enacted without any approval from state government and without the public’s knowledge.
The class action has been created by five drivers located in both cities but has been filed to represent everyone who may have been ticketed due to the traffic cameras. Each ticket given for driving passed a stopped school bus with flashing red lights is around $300. It is thought that more than 110,000 of these tickets have been issued between 2012 and 2014 throughout the cities and neighboring counties, contributing to close to $30 million in total collected fines.
The lawsuit goes on to state that the $300 tickets are used as a civil penalty in what is actually a criminal matter. Preexisting criminal laws already impose a $500+ fine for passing a school bus that is unloading or picking up schoolkids. The plaintiffs believe that turning a criminal prosecution into a civil administrative penalty without voter or a judge’s approval effective revokes a person’s right to a fair trial.
Right or Wrong? How Will the Case Close?
The defendants of the case – city officials and government entities, including Dallas County Schools – claim that there is no distinct difference between a civil case and a criminal case in this regard. Thus, the cameras have not stepped outside of any legal boundary. They also argue that school bus cameras are hugely beneficial to Texas communities, not only because of the millions in fines collected but also due to statistics that show “passing a stopped school bus” violations have dropped nearly 40% in the past few years.
The Claims Journal has published a full article about this ongoing story if you would like to know more about it (click here). If you believe you have been wrongly ticketed, charged, or convicted of a serious traffic violation due to a school bus cam or any other traffic camera, you can contact The Law Office of Samuel R. Terry. The firm’s Fort Worth criminal defense attorney has maintained a “Superb” Avvo rating and offers free case evaluations to inquiring clients. Schedule yours today.