Sep 13, 201108:51 AM
The Lighter Side

Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy

In Which I Contest a Traffic Camera Ticket, Part Deux

A while back I contested a red light ticket, using the usual logic of time-travel via wormholes and attacking dementors, among other Harry Potter references. I eagerly awaited a response, figuring at the very least I would have brightened some office drone’s dreary day and maybe gotten a pass for creativity. No dice. I received this letter (scanned on the left) where the Powers that Be said I owed the original $75 plus a mysteriously unexplained $35. I have therefore responded with the following. And if anyone out there can shed some light on the actual legality of the Orleans Parish Photo Camera program, please post it in the comments section below. Some people tell me I don’t really have to pay, but I don’t want to fail to qualify for a good mortgage rate three years down the line.
September 13, 2011
Subject: Notice # 0801100923607
Dear Spbagnesis 014,

On May 12, 2011 I was issued the citation referenced in the subject line above. In contesting this, I provided you with a succinct explanation and documentation of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding this alleged violation. I have enclosed these materials should you need to reference them again to refresh yourself with the facts regarding this matter.

Imagine my shock when I received a letter stating that I was nevertheless “responsible” for this alleged violation. My dismay was compounded by the fact that my fiduciary obligation increased from a mere $75 to a whopping $110, as if by magic. No explanation was provided for this adjustment, so I had no choice but to try and figure it out for myself. After thinking it through, I have come to the following understanding.

First off, I commend the lack of transparency in the matter. I think our public officials should be able to conjure additional fines and penalties whenever they feel it necessary in order to keep Lord Voldemort’s minions guessing. If Death Eaters have in fact broken out of de Pauls and dementors are obstructing traffic on Henry Clay, it is only a matter of time before these evil wizards menace City Hall. And when this happens, I can sleep soundly knowing that my additional $35 might be just enough to tip the balance in our favor.

Yet something still concerns me. I see from the stationary that this letter was issued from the Department of Public Works, but the address at the bottom lists Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans. I mailed my original document to an address in Arizona, yet Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s name is on the letterhead for this latest communication.

I readily confess my ignorance of the Byzantine arrangements which must necessarily exist to keep our city functioning in its current healthy and competent manner. I am grateful for the fantastic levees, public schools, and “Traffic Control Device” maintenance that my mills help to pay for. But I must caution against continuing to reveal that Tempe, Arizona is where the program is based. To do so just alerts the Death Eaters of our cunning strategy of decentralized private sector outsourcing.

Please send another letter absolving me of all responsibility in this matter, or at least explaining why I must pay an additional $35 dollars on top of the original fine. Once I receive this, I will muster what resources, financial and otherwise, I can to join forces against Lord V. I must say I have a spectacular Patronus charm – it is fully corporeal and takes the shape of a giant, glowing white nutria.

I eagerly await your reply & geaux Saints,

Jay Forman

Reader Comments:
Sep 13, 2011 10:50 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

It's a complete scam that when you contest something before the applicable deadline, they still tack on late fees if their consideration of your contested ticket takes you past the original deadline. As I recall reading in the paper, the law only allows the NOPD to issue these tickets, not the Department of Public Works, but I am not up on the latest info on this. I understand that Mitch wants his name plastered all over town the same way Marc Morial did, but he might exercise a little discretion and take his name off of these mailings that enrage the voters so much.

Sep 13, 2011 03:10 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Best advice? Get an attorney and fight the ticket.

The law in both Louisiana and California (along with a few other states) specifically states that a Traffic Violation Citation MUST be handed to You, FACE TO FACE, from a Commissioned Law Enforcement Officer.

Just so you know, Meter Maids/Nazis have NO legal authority to issue parking tickets, as they are NOT Commissioned Officers but merely are hired, then attend a few classes, and then are handed a uniform and give a quota amount that they must meet each week in order to get paid properly. Imagine that?!

Browse the links below, get an attorney, get in on the class action sue and fight!

Sep 14, 2011 09:00 am
 Posted by  Jay Forman

Thanks very much for the comments -- I really want to find a way to fight this thing


Oct 18, 2011 11:13 am
 Posted by  Christina

Thanks, Jay, for your eloquent and interesting letter. :) I have been researching a bit on this issue as well, trying to figure out what is best - to pay the ticket or to contest it further (as I contested it once and received a denial, as most people receive who contest these tickets). I talked with many people who went to the Poydras Street office to contest the tickets and it seems many people are enraged over the circumstances surrounded being ticketed by a camera, etc. I did not receive my $75 ticket until almost a month and a half later of 'receiving the violation'. It seems absurd to be telling some one a month later that they supposedly violated the law and expect them to remember the time in question. I liken this process to taking a test in school and then a month later receiving the test back, graded, and being expected to learn from your mistakes....At that point you have already moved on to other subjects (even within the specific subject the test was given in) and barely remember the returned test if you are a full-time student. The biggest difference between the school test and these cameras is that you do not know you are being tested with these cameras. In talking with(I do not think the man was a police officer or a judge) the man I had to contest my ticket in front of, he said that they tested the speeding plates under the ground twice an hour(I was supposedly 1 mile over the limit from which you would not receive a ticket and this 'violation' happened halfway between the two testing times between hour). Hmmm. In further discussion with this man it seems the plate underground is recalibrated many times daily; Could this be due to the weight displacement due to the heat/humidity of the environment....because the concrete on top of the plate will weigh more and expand when heated....does this affect the recorded speed of an object?

Oct 18, 2011 11:19 am
 Posted by  Christina

Any way, that does not even address the questions as to why we, Louisianians, are receiving letters from Arizona as per traffic violations, why we are receiving them at least a month after the 'violation' in question happens, and why we are required to go to a different office than a court to contest our 'violations'? Is it not our basic right to be told why we are receiving any ticket when the 'violation' happens? There just feels to be some thing fishy about this all and it feels like our basic rights are being violated. If any one has any more clarity, or further insight to share with all these questions, comments, etc., please share. Thanks for reading. Have an awesome day, y'all! Bless!

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The Lighter Side

Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy


Annie Drummond is a graphic designer and artist from Columbus, Ohio. She has a degree from the Columbus College of Art & Design. Two years ago she made the move from the Midwest to New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood and fell deeply in love as she discovered the rhythms and traditions of her new city. In addition to The Lighter Side, she writes about food, art and design (and other stuff) at




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