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The D.C. Court of Appeals has struck down a constitutional challenge of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s speeding and red-light cameras, which have raked in more than $125 million in fines since the program started in 2001. Attorneys Thomas Ruffin Jr. and Horace Bradshaw Jr. wanted to establish a class action for thousands of ticketed vehicle owners, but the Feb. 1 decision affirmed D.C. Superior Court Judge Melvin Wright’s 2003 ruling that dismissed the suit. Two plaintiffs — a Texas man who received 18 speeding tickets and a local taxicab-leasing company hit with more than 100 tickets — claimed the cameras violate due-process protections because they do not record who is driving the vehicle. The tickets allow car owners to deny they were driving the vehicle, but they must submit a sworn statement with the name and address of the driver during the infraction. That requirement shifts the burden of proof from the government to the vehicle owner, the suit claimed. The appeals court didn’t buy it, stating the cameras accurately record traffic violations, which can be contested through the sworn statements or in administrative hearings. Ruffin says the plaintiffs may ask for a rehearing or for the court to hear the case en banc. “I think the main difficulty we have is persuading a judge that we were right,” Ruffin says.
Brendan Smith can be contacted at [email protected].

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