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 enforcement agencies.
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.