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The fatal flaw in the system is the presumption that an owner of a motor vehicle is guilty of an offense if his or her car is photographed by a red light camera. Thereafter, a financial penalty is imposed, and based on an absolute presumption of guilt, there is no judicial review. This system strikes at the heart of 800 years of Anglo-American jurisprudence. A system that presumes guilt, Mr. Chairman, even on a $50 traffic ticket, violates due process. Senator Daniel Webster said, across the way, once upon a time, ''Ours is a system of law which hears before it condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry, and renders judgment only after trial.'' In sharp contrast to these principles, red light camera programs condemn vehicle owners behind closed doors and denies them a trial. Frightening throwbacks to the days of the divine right of kings. The techno-tyranny of red light cameras invites continued erosion of individual liberties.
In a civilized society where ordered liberty must prevail, unreasonable government regulations and police powers must be limited by the Constitution. If necessary, these limitations and protections should be enforced by this Congress. Many observers, and you've heard it today, laud the safety record of cameras, and every rational driver wants safe roads. But not every safety benefit befits a free society.
The word safety is not a magical incantation that permits government functionaries to do as they please. In plain southern English, when the government puts its hand in the pocket of a citizen and extracts a monetary fine, the government must follow the rules. With red light cameras, both the government and its contractors have an immense financial stake in the violation of traffic laws. What fuels this flawed system is not a desire for safety, but a hunger for profit at public expense.