Photo radar: you’re guilty!
Judge Gilles Michaud of the Quebec Court has refused to hear a defense over a photo radar ticket. "The proof is absolute," he remarked, while refusing to hear the defendant’s arguments.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms offers all Canadians the right to defend themselves. This includes murder. Judge Michaud thinks that's a waste of his time. His decision suggests that machines are perfect and supersede the right of citizens to defend themselves.
How far will this go? With more robots on the way, will we be handing more and more decisions their way?
When photo radar appeared, I wondered what would a judge decide if the ticket arrived at the defendant’s house 6 or 8 weeks after the alleged offense. Would the courts accept a defense of not recalling the incident, since it was so long ago? This is a driving offense, not a murder. Some of us drive a lot and to recall where we were six weeks prior is difficult. Would the judge order a minimum period for the defendant to be informed? We know that our municipal bureaucracy is not the fastest -- what would the judge decide?
Now we know. You are guilty! No questions.
Since photo radar first appeared in 2009, 102,817 citizens have contested photo radar tickets. The result: 102,817 convictions. Consider that between 2009 and 2014, 5 photo radars in Montreal positioned in 5 locations only have brought in $40.5 million to the city's coffers.
The images are of the car and its license plate. The radar specifies the speed of the car. There are no images of the driver.
By refusing to offer the accused a chance to defend themselves, the judge is also preventing the defense from offering any kind of testimony about the accuracy of the radar, who was really driving the car, where was this radar located (the image of the car doesn't include its location). The image itself cannot be contested according to this judge, but anybody with numerical graphic experience will tell you otherwise.
Furthermore, the judge is restricting the rights awarded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. How can this be legal? Or is this just another way to fill city coffers?
We need to take a serious look at this "You are automatically guilty" attitude; it goes beyond traffic tickets. If we don't oppose this "fast track" approach, where else will it lead to? We need to wake up before the robots start controlling our lives even further.