A Dallas judge has ruled that the company operating that city's red-light cameras violated state law by operating without a private investigation license. So what's the big deal?
Well, American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona-based company that operates the cameras in Houston, isn't licensed in Texas either, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety's online records. (Read the whole saga in this "journal of the politics of driving".)
The whole thing started when the wife of Dallas DUI lawyer Lloyd Ward got a camera-generated ticket in 2007. Enterprising barrister that he is, Ward found a clause in the Texas Occupation Code that states "A person acts as an investigations company...if the person engages in the business of obtaining or furnishing...evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or investigation committee...."
So Ward filed suit against Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services, and Civil District Court Judge Craig Smith granted Ward's motion for summary judgment last month.
Ward then filed similar motions against Redflex, which operates the cameras in Duncanville and Plano, and American Traffic Solutions (ATS). Ward is "seeking the return of illegally collected fines," according to the article.
Hair Balls has calls in to ATS spokesperson Josh Weiss, and Craig Ferrell, an attorney in the Houston Police Department, to check on ATS's licensure, and the nature of the city's contract with the company. We will update as soon as we hear back.
Update: Weiss says "ATS believes it has all the necessary approvals required to operate its public safety cameras in Texas."
-- Craig Malisow
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.