Driverless cars are coming to a new car dealership near you. Can officer-less
traffic tickets be far behind?
All new cars have a "black box" that records some critical driving
information, such as miles per gallon, driving speed, starts and stops,
driving distance and a few other metrics. The California Air Resources
Board is currently considering rules that would
give the state access to this information. The next step may be to share this data with law
In response to concerns, the State Assembly has created a committee to
examine consumer data and privacy issues.
Some may say that officer-less tickets are already here, because red-light
camera tickets in California do not require an officer's testimony
in most cases. Although the California Supreme Court has already ruled
on this issue, it may eventually come before the Justices once again.
There are two fundamental requirements in any traffic ticket or other criminal
prosecution. There must be evidence, and an attorney practicing in Lamont
and Shafter must be able to challenge that evidence in court.
Sometimes the evidence is an eyewitness. A police officer may see you make
an illegal U-turn or observe that your headlights are not on at night.
Sometimes the evidence comes from a machine, such as a radar gun or red-light
camera photo. Later, at the trial, the prosecutor must make that evidence
public. The officer who saw you make the allegedly illegal turn must be
present or the photo must be examined.
An experienced lawyer can use these opportunities to poke holes in the
state's case and either have it thrown out on a technicality or use
the weakness to negotiate a deal to reduce the fine and/or points.