Friday, August 26, 2011

New TN law bans 95% of redlight scamera tickets, allows ignoring remaining 5%

Do you want to know more about police shooting traffic scameras?

95% of redlight camera tickets are for alleged "rolling stops" before turning right (usually after a complete stop), so this new law bans bans 95% of redlight camera tickets in Tennessee. The remaining 5% of redlight camera tickets can also be ignored under this new law, which attempts to bypass mandatory due process NOTICE by bypassing PERSONAL SERVICE OF PROCESS of these frivolous civil lawsuits. As named in this new law, "First Class Mail" does NOT qualify as "notice", so this new "law" is a violation Knoxville Code, Rule 4 (see below) of TN Rules of Civil Procedure, US and TN Constitutions and centuries of caselaw, since no signature of the defendant is provided. All laws in violation of the constitutions are null and void and can be ignored from their inception, according to US Supreme Court and TN Supreme Court. Which is why 85% of citizens refuse to pay redlight scamera tickets.

Tennessee Code 55-8-198 - Any other traffic citation for failure to make a complete stop at a red signal before making a permitted right turn as provided by § 55-8-110(a)(3)(A) that is based solely upon evidence obtained from an unmanned traffic enforcement camera shall be deemed invalid.

"Using the data provided by the LAPD, we discovered that the percentage of rolling-rightturn violations averages 75% and at many intersection approaches in the City is significantly higher. The northbound intersection of De Soto and Roscoe has the distinction of having the highest percentage of rolling-right-turn citations of any red-light camera (RLC) monitored intersection approach in the City. Rolling-right-turn citations make up 97% of the violations at that approach. For the 9 month period, a full 1225 citations were given for rolling-right-turns and only 32 citations were given for straight through violations. For the southbound approach, the rolling-right-turn percentage was a comparable 95%."
-Safer Streets L.A., How Dangerous Is a Rolling Right Turn? March 2011

“A law repugnant to the Constitution is void.”
-Chief Justice John Marshall, US Supreme Court, Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803)

Knoxville Code, Section 8-1, Issuance of process.
The city judge shall issue process on the complaint of any person when it appears to the city judge that any provision of this Code or other ordinance of the city has been violated. He shall try no case until process has been regularly sued out, served and returned.

"It is extremely easy to beat this type of ticket in court. Your easiest defense is to simply throw the ticket away. If it does not come with a return receipt that requires a signature, there is no proof that you actually got the ticket."
-Norman G. Fernandez, attorney,, free ebook How to Beat a Speeding Ticket - Photo RADAR

"Your photo radar defense: Ignoring The Letter. When you receive a general post letter advising you of your photo radar citation, you have the option of just ignoring it. All states have guidelines on how the citation must be served. In effect, your payment or appearance at the courthouse is your acceptance of service. By not responding to the letter, you are refusing acceptance of service. In addition, none of the departments are making personal service to anyone that lists a PO Box as their mailing address on their vehicle registrations."
-Lt "Radar" Roy Reyer, Maricopa County Sheriff Office, Phoenix, Arizona,, Your Photo Radar Defense

75% of AZ Drivers Refuse to Pay Photo Traffic Tickets

85% of TX Drivers Refuse to Pay Photo Traffic Tickets

"Starting tomorrow, photo-enforcement-violation notices must finally state the truth about what's going on -- namely, that you don't need to respond or identify the driver in the picture. Cities and, for a while, the state of Arizona, have for years employed something of a ruse to help get speeders and red-light runners caught by the machines to pay up. They sent an initial notice of violation that has no legal teeth, yet contained a passive threat that blowing off the notice might not be in the motorists' best interest. A few years ago, we caught the city of Scottsdale lying blatantly in its notices, which it falsely called a "summons." The notice stated that those who didn't respond would be subject to fines, fees and driver's license suspension. An Arizona Department of Public Safety notice of violation that we published two years ago shows the more-typical trick. Appearing below DPS insignia, the notice states simply that the motorist should fill out the form and sent it back by the "respond-by date." While the DPS freeway cameras were online, (that program ended last summer), thousands of people likely responded like sheep to those notices -- even though they didn't have to. As numerous articles in New Times and elsewhere have pointed out, ignoring those notices only meant the possibility of a ticket being served at the offender's home by a process server. True, having a server come out meant an additional $25 added to the fine. But if the server never comes, or the motorist doesn't appear to be home when the server comes -- always a distinct possibility -- then the photo enforcement ticket becomes invalid. Now, thanks to a bill that Governor Jan Brewer signed, notices of violation must confess that: (a) the notice is not a court issued document; (b) the recipient is under no obligation to identify the person or respond to the notice; and (c) failure to respond to the notice may result in official service that may result in an additionally levied fee. The new law also mandates that $13 of every ticket goes to the "GITEM" task force, which has a mission of "strict enforcement" of immigration and gang laws."
-Phoenix News Times, Arizona Photo-Enforcement Notices Must Now State the Truth: Motorists Have No Duty to Respond or Identify Driver, Jul. 19 2011

FACT: "Lasercraft is a member of the Public Safety Equipment PSE group of companies. Public Safety Equipment (Intl) Ltd, Registered Office, Yeadon, Leeds, England. Beijing Mag Science & Technology Development Corp, Beijing, China."

"Redflex Group is based in South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Redflex Holdings Limited was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in January 1997. Redflex Traffic Systems Inc has contracts with more then 130 USA cities, and is the largest provider of digital red light and speed enforcement services in North America."

City of Knoxville pays $500,000 invoice to Redflex account at National Australia Bank (discovery research courtesy of Clifford Clark)

“The Constitution does not consider slaves to be U.S. citizens. Rather, they are constitutionally protected property of their masters.”
-Chief Justice Roger Taney, US Supreme Court, Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857)

Tennessee: New Law on Right Turns Sorting Itself Out

Dear NMA Member,

We sent an Alert to you back in May about the pending legislation to impose guidelines for the use of automated traffic enforcement in Tennessee. As you may know, the bill passed, and now Tennessee enforcement agencies are attempting to adjust to the new system.

A key component of the new law is the prohibition against using cameras to prosecute failure to come to a complete stop before turning right on red lights. (The new law, Tennessee Code 55-8-198, can be accessed here.)

There has been some confusion as to when enforcement agencies needed to begin following that prohibition. The City of Gallatin, in particular, found itself playing catch-up. (See the NewsChannel 5 story here.)

The bottom line is that if you paid a red-light ticket of this kind, issued by Gallatin since July 1st, it will be refunded.

Presumably, unpaid tickets will be ignored, since they are invalid.

However, Gallatin Police Department Sargeant Bill Storment cautions: "The law for stopping hasn't changed, and if a police officer sees you making that right on red without stopping, he can still stop and write you a ticket."

Clarksville, Murfreesboro, and Mt. Juliet are also currently using red-light traffic cameras. In Murfreesboro, the red-light cameras are only used to ticket drivers caught turning right on red at intersections that are clearly marked with "No Turn On Red" signs, which is an allowable enforcement practice under the new law.

Charles Walter
National Motorists Association

Knoxville red-light camera tickets fall sharply because of new state law

By Don Jacobs
September 7, 2011

15 — Knoxville intersections with red-light cameras

4,826 — tickets issued in June

1,308 — tickets issue in July, after law took effect

$1.4 million — ticket collections by city in first three quarters of 2010

$909,769 — ticket collections by city in first three quarters of 2009

KNOXVILLE, TENN. -- Knoxville traffic citations fell 73 percent from June to July as a result of a new state law regulating red-light camera use, figures show.

Beginning July 1, when the law took effect, the Knoxville Police Department stopped issuing $50 violations for improper right turns recorded by cameras at 15 city intersections.

KPD Capt. Gordon Catlett, who oversees the photo enforcement program, said violations decreased from 4,826 in June to 1,308 in July.

Catlett said KPD officers continue issuing violations for drivers captured on camera running straight through a red light or improperly turning left.

Only right turns on red are exempted from the cameras' $50 gaze.

"The real story is going to be in about four months when people realize they don't have to stop before making a right turn and we see an increase in rear-end collisions," Catlett said.

In Farragut, Traffic Enforcement Manager Ben Harkins deemed the new statute "a bad law." Farragut also ceased July 1 issuing $50 right-turn-on-red violations based on camera evidence.

Records show Farragut issued 2,504 red light camera violations in April, May and June, an average of more than 800 violations a month. Farragut has a contract with RedFlex Traffic Systems to provide eight cameras at four intersections.

"We're still sending out more than 300 violations a month on the left turn and straight-through violations," Harkins said Tuesday.

"We have reduced the number of people running red lights," Harkins said. "Now that the public knows we have to have an officer out there to enforce (stopping for righthand turns), we're going to be less safe."

The new law was the result of an outcry across the state about the cameras. Opponents of the devices argued the cameras were merely a revenue generator for cities and had little to do with safety.

Catlett spent time in Nashville testifying against a proposed right-turn-on-red restriction and thought legislators were going to include a grandfather clause that exempted cities from the new law until the old contracts with private vendors expired. Most cities in Tennessee have agreements to split money from the violations with the company that supplies and maintains the cameras.

The final version of the law , however, did not include a grandfather clause, forcing cities across the state to amend policies to comport with the new statute.

"That was a big surprise, especially since I was the one going to Nashville to speak with these legislators," Catlett said.

Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, who got involved in discussions about restricting the cameras, said he also thought the law he voted for included the grandfather clause.

"It was my understanding that it was to have a grandfather clause and I think most of the members voting on it thought so, also," Haynes said Tuesday.

He said he learned from newspaper reports that the grandfather clause didn't make the passed version of the bill, but that didn't sway his support for the bill.

"I would have voted for it even if I knew it didn't have the grandfather clause," Haynes said. "I think people realize we've made a reasonable compromise."

To comply with the law, Catlett said LaserCraft, the company that contracts with Knoxville to provide the cameras, established a special electronic "parking lot" to store images of the now-neutered violation. The right-turn violations stored in the special area disappear in 20 days.

"The reason for that is because civilians can't dismiss a case that by the letter of the law is a violation," Catlett said.

Making a right turn on red before coming to a complete stop remains a traffic violation, but a citation can be issued only if an officer witnesses the infraction.

Knoxville first began using the red light cameras in April 2006. The program grew until 15 intersections were monitored by the devices.

Even before the new law took effect, Catlett said city officials opted to disable the camera posted at the intersection of Chapman Highway and Moody Avenue once the Henley Bridge was closed for construction. A detour route funneled drivers to the intersection of Chapman Highway and Moody.

"We disabled that one because of the detour route that the Tennessee Department of Transportation set up," Catlett said.

The camera, which remains in place, was disabled Jan. 4, he said.

Catlett acknowledged that the camera would have had an increased traffic flow to monitor with the bridge closure.

"But it's not about the money," he said.


Any time someone says "It's not about the money" it's about the money.

end ALL Scammeras NOW

yea well, Prohibition was a stupid law just like these dam cameras

Gordon, please do not refer to us as "civilians", as if you were some sort of occupying soldier or something. We (all) are citizens, and you are a peace officer whose job is to protect and to serve. Thanks.

My husband and I had came to a complete stop and then proceeded through a right turn at one of those red light camera areas. Nowhere did it say at the time that you could not turn on a red light. The photos and everything showed we had stopped and then went. We still got one of those $50 tickets. We avoid those areas now and do not shop in those areas due to that one instance. So for the city to gain money, the businesses in that area lost money. So much for the economy.

is payment of the tickets enforced? i dont think so. No... trust me.

A speed limit sign near traffic cameras in Bluff City. (Press photo/Tony Duncan)

Bluff City shuts down speed cameras after inquires about state law violation

September 14, 2011

BLUFF CITY, TENN. — Bluff City has pulled the plug on its well-known speed cameras for now.

The city had been breaking state law for more than two months by not moving two posted 45 mph signs on the southbound lanes of U.S. Highway 11E at least one mile away from the devices.

Acting Police Chief Greg DePew, said Wednesday morning the city was going to take action regarding the signs, but he could not say when that might happen.

Later in the day, City Manager Judy Dulaney said the city was “actually in the process of turning off the cameras until we get this solved.”

“The cameras have been turned off, and I’ve sent the public works department out to take the sign down,” she said later Wednesday.

When asked why the city didn’t take the opportunity to make the changes when the law went into effect, Dulaney cited various reasons, including a change in leadership and personnel as well as immediate concerns over speeding and wrecks near a local flea market.

A little fire breathing by two state representatives earlier in the day may or may not have had something to do with Bluff City taking action.

“Every single ticket generated from that — every ticket written since July 1 — should be thrown out,” said State Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough. “Bluff City needs to abide by the law. That money should be returned. The cameras should be turned off immediately until that’s done. And if that’s not done, I will be speaking to the attorney general.”

State Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, said if Bluff City did not move the 45 mph signs then “the county mayor (Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey) better get to it.”

“If he does not, he’ll be getting a call from the state level, Ford added. “That (the cameras) has nothing to do with people getting killed out there. It’s not about safety; it never has been. It’s about making money.”

State legislation that went into effect on July 1 does not permit traffic enforcement cameras to be placed on public roads and highways unless the reduced speed of 10 mph or more is posted within this parameter. In this case, the speed on the southbound lanes on 11E leading to the cameras is reduced from 55 mph to 45 mph, but the 45 mph sign is posted only three-tenths of a mile from the cameras.

New Red Light Camera Traffic Law Causing Confusion

Aug 22, 2011

GALLATIN, Tenn. - A new state law could very soon have red light camera citations come screeching to a halt. The legislation that took effect July 1 said the cameras can't be used to ticket a driver who fails to come to a complete stop when turning right on red.

In the city of Gallatin, the law has created some confusion.

"The intent of the bill was discussed repeatedly as not affecting agencies that have current contracts, so in other words we'd be grandfathered in," said Sgt. Bill Storment with the Gallatin Police Dept. "We were good to go as far as we knew, to continue enforcement as we had been."

Because the city did not think the new law applied to its red light cameras, 906 right turn citations were mailed out during the month of July.

"August 1st, I received notification from our city attorney that we're not to be processing these right turn violations," said Storment.

He said the city immediately stopped issuing those citations, and began working to track down those drivers who had already paid the $50 fine.

"They said I don't have to worry about it, it's taken care of," said Jules Pomeroy, one of many drivers now due a refund.

"It's an extra $50 I can spend at my store. I'm excited about it."

Storment said the city wasn't intentionally trying to violate the law. Instead, he believes the mix-up stems from a change in the language of the legislation.

"I would find it hard to believe that we were the only agency that interpreted the information the same way," he said.

"Somewhere along the line, the language about being grandfathered in was left out of the bill."

He's also concerned about how the nearly $45,000 in lost revenue will be received by American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona-based company that maintains the city's cameras.

"I just hope the vendor won't decide it's not worth their while to keep the cameras in," he said.

Drivers, on the other hand, said they won't miss the cameras at all.

"There should be an officer there. Let's take the technology and computers out of the situation for a minute and let's put someone there that can use common sense and good judgement when writing a citation," one driver told NewsChannel 5.

Storment said the department's officers will continue to do just that.

"The law for stopping hasn't changed," he said. "And if a police officer sees you making that right on red without stopping, he can still stop and write you a ticket."

Clarksville, Murfreesboro, and Mt. Juliet are also currently using red light traffic cameras.

In Clarksville, police officers said they made changes to their system so that they'd be in compliance when the new law took effect.

In Murfreesboro, the red light cameras are only used to ticket drivers caught turning right on red at intersections that are clearly marked with "No Turn On Red" signs.

The Tennessee Attorney General has already weighed in on the issue. In an August 8th opinion, he upheld the constitutionality of the new law, and said it in no way impairs the contracts that exist between cities and traffic camera enforcement companies.


Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-8-198


Title 55 Motor and Other Vehicles
Chapter 8 Operation of Vehicles--Rules of the Road
Part 1 Operation of Vehicles -- Rules of the Road

Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-8-198 (2011)

55-8-198. Citations based on surveillance cameras.

(a) A traffic citation that is based solely upon evidence obtained from a surveillance camera that has been installed to enforce or monitor traffic violations shall be considered a nonmoving traffic violation.

(b) An employee of the applicable law enforcement office shall review video evidence from a traffic light signal monitoring system and make a determination as to whether a violation has occurred. If a determination is made that a violation has occurred, a notice of violation or a citation shall be sent by first class mail to the registered owner of the vehicle that was captured by the traffic light signal monitoring system. A notice of violation or citation shall allow for payment of the traffic violation or citation within thirty (30) days of the mailing of the notice. No additional penalty or other costs shall be assessed for nonpayment of a traffic violation or citation that is based solely on evidence obtained from a surveillance camera installed to enforce or monitor traffic violations, unless a second notice is sent by first class mail to the registered owner of the motor vehicle and the second notice provides for an additional thirty (30) days for payment of the violation or citation.

(c) (1) Effective July 1, 2009, a state agency or political subdivision of the state that installs, owns, operates or maintains a traffic-control signal light located in an intersection that employs a surveillance camera for the enforcement or monitoring of traffic violations shall ensure that:

(A) The surveillance camera does not identify as a violation of § 55-8-110(a)(3), or any municipal law or ordinance that mirrors, substantially duplicates or incorporates by cross-reference the language of § 55-8-110(a)(3), any vehicle that legally entered the intersection during the green or yellow intervals in accordance with § 55-8-110(a)(1) and (2); and

(B) Appropriate signage is located not less than five hundred feet (500') but not more than one thousand feet (1,000') in advance of the intersection informing drivers as to the presence of surveillance cameras at the approaching intersection.

(2) If the state agency or political division of the state violates subdivision (c)(1), then any traffic citation based solely on evidence generated by the surveillance camera shall be deemed to be invalid.

(d) The following vehicles are exempt from receiving a notice of violation:

(1) Emergency vehicles with active emergency lights;

(2) Vehicles moving through the intersection to avoid or clear the way for a marked emergency vehicle;

(3) Vehicles under police escort; and

(4) Vehicles in a funeral procession.

(e) (1) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection (e), the registered owner of the motor vehicle shall be responsible for payment of any notice of violation or citation issued as the result of a traffic light monitoring system.

(2) An owner of a vehicle shall not be responsible for the violation if, on or before the designated court date, the owner furnishes the court an affidavit stating the name and address of the person or entity that leased, rented or otherwise had care, custody or control of the motor vehicle at the time of the violation.

(3) If a motor vehicle or its plates were stolen at the time of the alleged violation, the registered owner must provide an affidavit denying the owner was an operator and provide a certified copy of the police report reflecting such theft.

(4) An affidavit alleging theft of a motor vehicle or its plates must be provided by the registered owner of a vehicle receiving a notice of violation within thirty (30) days of the mailing date of the notice of violation.

(f) No surveillance cameras shall be permitted on federal interstate highways except for Smart Way cameras, other intelligent transportation system cameras or, when employees of the department or construction workers are present, surveillance cameras used to enforce or monitor traffic violations within work zones designated by the department of transportation; provided, that the cameras shall be operated only by a state entity.

HISTORY: Acts 2008, ch. 962, § 1; 2009, ch. 389, §§ 1, 2.

TN Rules of Civil Procedure


Rule 4.01: Summons; Issuance; By Whom Served; Sanction for Delay.

(1) Upon the filing of the complaint the clerk of the court wherein the complaint is filed shall forthwith issue the required summons and cause it, with necessary copies of the complaint and summons, to be delivered for service to any person authorized to serve process. This person shall serve the summons, and the return endorsed thereon shall be proof of the time and manner of service. A summons may be issued for service in any county against any defendant, and separate or additional summonses may be issued against any defendant upon request of plaintiff. Nothing in this rule shall affect existing laws with respect to venue.

(2) A summons and complaint may be served by any person who is not a party and is not less than 18 years of age. The process server must be identified by name and address on the return.

(3) If a plaintiff or counsel for plaintiff (including third-party plaintiffs) intentionally causes delay of prompt issuance of a summons or prompt service of a summons, filing of the complaint (or third-party complaint) is ineffective.

[Amended by order filed December 10, 2003; effective July 1, 2004.]

Rule 4.03: Summons; Return.

(1) The person serving the summons shall promptly make proof of service to the court and shall identify the person served and shall describe the manner of service. If a summons is not served within 90 days after its issuance, it shall be returned stating the reasons for failure to serve. The plaintiff may obtain new summonses from time to time, as provided in Rule 3, if any prior summons has been returned unserved or if any prior summons has not been served within 90 days of issuance.

(2) When process is served by mail, the original summons, endorsed as below; an affidavit of the person making service setting forth the person's compliance with the requirements of this rule; and, the return receipt shall be sent to and filed by the clerk. The person making service shall endorse over his or her signature on the original summons the date of mailing a certified copy of the summons and a copy of the complaint to the defendant and the date of receipt of return receipt from the defendant. If the return receipt is signed by the defendant, or by person designated by Rule 4.04 or by statute, service on the defendant shall be complete. If not, service by mail may be attempted again or other methods authorized by these rules or by statute may be used.

TN AG: Constituton Not Violated If Traffic Camera Operators Lose Money Under New Law

A new state law regulating traffic enforcement cameras apparently does not unconstitutionally impair current contracts with camera operators, even though it may reduce their revenue, according to Attorney General Bob Cooper.

Two state legislators said a question had been raised because some contracts were based on "an understanding that a minimum number of traffic citations would be based on right-turn-on-red violations, according to the opinion made public today.

The opinion cautions that no specific contract was provided for evaluation with the questions posed by Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, and Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, sponsors of the new law now known as Public Chapter 425.

But as a general proposition, the opinion says the new law "should withstand constitutional scrutiny."

Both the state and federal constitutions prohibit enactment of laws that impair existing contracts and "several local governments" have executed contracts with vendors to install and maintain traffic camera systems.

Among new restrictions imposed by the new law is a ban on issuing tickets for right turns on red lights unless the intersection is clearly marked with a "no turn on red" sign.

The Cooper opinion says that courts have allow laws that impact existing contracts if the law is "remedial in nature" and/or involves exercise of a state's police power.


PO BOX 20207

August 8, 2011
Opinion No. 11-61

Constitutionality of Restrictions on Use of Unmanned Traffic Enforcement Cameras


Whether Chapter 425 of the 2011 Tennessee Public Acts is defensible against a challenge that it unconstitutionally impairs the obligations of contracts.


Yes. The opinion request received by the Office states that, prior to the passage of Public Chapter 425, several local governments executed contracts with vendors to install and maintain traffic enforcement camera systems to assist the local governments in the issuance of traffic citations. The local governments under these contracts would pay a certain percentage of revenues from all traffic citations issued by the traffic enforcement camera system. Per the opinion request, there was an understanding that a minimum number of traffic citations would be based on right-turn-on-red violations. Although this Office has not been provided with a particular contract against which to measure the impact of Chapter 425, compelling arguments can be made that Chapter 425 does not unlawfully impair any contractual relationship. Such arguments include that the passage of Chapter 425 is remedial in nature, represents a legitimate exercise of the State‟s police power, and is reasonable in relation to its purpose.


Effective July 1, 2011, Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-8-198 was amended as follows:

(g) Prior to implementation of any new unmanned traffic enforcement camera used to enforce or monitor traffic violations, the local governing body shall conduct a traffic engineering study for the area being considered. The study shall follow standard engineering practices as determined by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) and shall be stamped by a professional engineer specializing in traffic engineering and licensed to practice in this state. A vendor of traffic enforcement camera systems shall not be allowed to conduct the traffic engineering study, or to participate in the selection of such traffic engineer, to document the need for a traffic enforcement camera.

(h) No citation shall be issued based solely upon evidence obtained from a traffic enforcement camera that has been installed to enforce or monitor traffic violations of § 55-8-110(a)(3), or any municipal law or ordinance that mirrors, substantially duplicates or incorporates by cross-reference the language of § 55-8-110(a)(3), unless the evidence collected shows the target vehicle with its front tire or tires before the stop line when the signal is red, and subsequently shows the same vehicle with its rear tire or tires past the stop line while the signal is red.

(i) A traffic enforcement camera system may be used to issue a traffic citation for an unlawful right turn on a red signal at an intersection that is clearly marked by a “No Turn on Red” sign erected by the responsible municipal or county government in the interest of traffic safety in accordance with § 55-8-110(a)(3)(A). Any other traffic citation for failure to make a complete stop at a red signal before making a permitted right turn as provided by § 55-8-110(a)(3)(A) that is based solely upon evidence obtained from an unmanned traffic enforcement camera shall be deemed invalid.

(j) No more than one (1) citation shall be issued for each distinct and separate traffic offense in violation of a municipal ordinance or a traffic offense as provided in this Chapter 8.

(k) A traffic citation that is based solely upon evidence obtained from an unmanned traffic enforcement camera shall be deemed invalid if the registration information of the motor vehicle for which such traffic citation is issued is not consistent with the evidence recorded by such enforcement camera.

(l) Unmanned traffic enforcement cameras that monitor speed shall not be permitted on any public road or highway within one (1) mile of a reduction of speed limits on such public road or highway of ten miles per hour (10 mph) or greater. Provided, this subsection shall not apply to unmanned traffic enforcement cameras within the designated distance of a marked school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation.

2011 Tenn. Pub. Acts, ch. 425 (to be codified at Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-8-198(g)-(l)).

In essence, Chapter 425 places additional restrictions on how unmanned traffic enforcement cameras may be used as evidence to support the issuance of a traffic citation.

Since this Office has not been provided with a copy of any contract that might be affected by the passage of Chapter 425, we cannot provide a definitive answer to the question presented given that claims that a legislative enactment unconstitutionally impairs the obligation of contracts are necessarily fact-intensive. Cf., e.g., Energy Reserves Group, Inc. v. Kansas Power & Light Co., 459 U.S. 400, 411 (1983) (“The severity of the impairment is said to increase the level of scrutiny to which the legislation will be subjected”); Von Hoffman v. City of Quincy, 71 U.S. 535, 554 (1866) (“Every case must be determined upon its own circumstances.”).

Nevertheless, based on the information set forth in the opinion request, this Office finds compelling arguments exist to support the position that the passage of Chapter 425 does not unlawfully impair any contractual relationship. The Tennessee Constitution and the Constitution of the United States both prohibit laws that impair the obligation of a contract. U.S. Const., Art. I, § 10, cl. 1; Tenn. Const., Art. I, § 20. The threshold inquiry under federal and state law is whether the challenged law has, in fact, operated as a substantial impairment of a contractual relationship. Energy Reserves Group, 459 U.S. at 411. The obligations of a contract are impaired by a law that renders them invalid, or releases or extinguishes them. Home Bldg. & Loan Ass’n v. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398, 431 (1934). As the Tennessee Supreme Court recently recognized, a retrospective substantive legal change may not “take away or impair vested rights acquired under existing laws or create a new obligation, impose a new duty, or attach a new disability in respect of transactions or considerations already passed.” Estate of Bell v. Shelby County Health Care Corp., 318 S.W.3d 823, 829 (Tenn. 2010) (internal quotation marks omitted).

It is equally well established under federal and state law that a contract is not unlawfully impaired by the retrospective application of laws that are remedial in nature. Remedial legislation is intended to adjust the means or methods whereby a cause of action may be effectuated, wrongs redressed, and relief obtained. See Caudill v. Foley, 21 S.W.3d 203, 208 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1999) (citing Doe v Sundquist, 943 F. Supp. 886, 893 (M.D. Tenn. 1996), aff’d, 106 F.3d 702 (6th Cir. 1997)).

Federal and state law further recognize that all contracts are subject to be interfered with, or otherwise affected by, subsequent statutes that are enacted in the government‟s bona fide exercise of its police power. Energy Reserves Group, 459 U.S. at 411; Profill Development, Inc. v. Dills, 960 S.W.2d 17, 33 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997); see also Shields v. Clifton Hill Land Co., 28 S.W. 668, 674 (Tenn. 1894) (stating that the contract clause of the Tennessee Constitution “does not inhibit retrospective laws made in furtherance of the police power of the state”). The police power “is an exercise of the sovereign right of the government to protect the lives, health, morals, comfort, and general welfare of the people, and is paramount to any rights under contracts between individuals.” Home Bldg. and Loan Ass’n, 290 U.S. at 437.

The enactment of Public Chapter 425 is both remedial in nature and a legitimate exercise of Tennessee‟s police power. Initially, Chapter 425 does not, by its terms, change the rights or responsibilities of the vendors with respect to any contract. Chapter 425 instead merely alters the rules of evidence to determine when a person has violated the traffic laws of Tennessee. The Legislature‟s changing of the rules of evidence is remedial in nature, and does not impair the vendors‟ contracts with local government. As the Tennessee Supreme Court recognized in Brewer v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., 490 S.W.2d 506 (Tenn. 1973):

It must be evident that the right to have one‟s controversies determined by existing rules of evidence is not a vested right. These rules pertain to the remedies which the state provides for its citizens, and, generally in legal contemplation, they neither enter into and constitute a part of any contract, nor can they be regarded as being of the essence of any right which a party may seek to enforce. Like other rules affecting the remedy, they must, therefore, at all times be subject to modification and control by the legislature; and the changes which are enacted may lawfully be made applicable to existing causes of action, even in those states in which retrospective laws are forbidden.

. . . .

Courts of high authority have held that mere rules of evidence do not form part of contracts entered into while they are in force, and that it is competent for the legislature to, from time to time, change the rules of evidence, and to make such change applicable to existing causes of action.

Brewer, 490 S.W.2d at 511 (quoting Marx v. Hanthorn, 148 U.S. 172, 181 (1893)).

Chapter 425 only changes the circumstances under which valid traffic citations may be sustained upon evidence obtained from unmanned traffic enforcement cameras and thus, as a remedial act, should withstand constitutional scrutiny. In any event, while Chapter 425 might arguably diminish the income received under a revenue-sharing agreement by reducing the number of traffic citations issued, any expected revenue stream was always necessarily contingent on the citizens of the State violating the law in certain numbers. That contingency tends to suggest that the parties have no “vested right” in a particular level of revenue.

Finally, notwithstanding the remedial nature of Chapter 425, the existence of pervasive State regulation on the subject of the operation of motor vehicles would likewise suggest that the vendors entered their contracts knowing that regulatory change was foreseeable, see Energy Reserves Group, 459 U.S. at 416, and hence that their reasonable expectations have not been defeated by the enactment of Public Chapter 425. Traffic enforcement is, in general, a matter within the police power. See, e.g., Sproles v. Binford, 286 U.S. 374, 379 (1932) (“Contracts which relate to the use of the highways must be deemed to have been made in contemplation of the regulatory authority of the state.”). Chapter 425 does not favor one vendor over another, nor does it favor local governments at the expense of the vendors (since both parties might lose income under a revenue-sharing agreement). Rather, Chapter 425 would appear to favor motorists who are charged with misconduct. It enhances their ability to confront a live witness, instead of photographic evidence, at any contested hearing on the matter. Moreover, by restricting the use of unmanned traffic enforcement cameras to intersections that are “clearly marked by a „No Turn on Red‟ sign,” Chapter 425 provides motorists better notice of when their conduct is likely to result in sanction. These considerations—each of which relates to notions of fairness in the administration of the law—amount to “significant and legitimate state interests.” Energy Reserves Group 459 U.S. at 416. The means chosen to implement these purposes would further appear likely to survive a reasonableness challenge. The State does not seek to “simply walk away from its financial obligations,” id. at 412 n.14, by the enactment of Chapter 425, but rather to impose conditions upon which traffic citations may be issued, when it is free either to proscribe or not to proscribe the underlying conduct of its citizens.

Although we again emphasize that it is impossible to determine the extent—if any—to which Chapter 425 adjusts the rights and responsibilities of contracting parties in the absence of a particular contract, we are of the opinion that Chapter 425 is defensible against a claim that it violates the contract clauses of the Tennessee or United States Constitutions.

Attorney General and Reporter

Associate Solicitor General

Assistant Attorney General

Requested by:

The Honorable Richard Floyd
State Representative
Suite G-24 War Memorial Building
Nashville, TN 37243

The Honorable Jim Tracy
State Senator
Suite 2, Legislative Plaza
Nashville, Tennessee 37243

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