How “FREE” is the Land of the Free?
By Cor Steenstra
Of course I could go into the details of the controversial politics in this country, but I won’t. That is not what this is about.
As many of you know, I am not an American, but moved here a mere 12 years ago from Europe. Being European born and raised, one tends to get used to the expectation of how “the law” works, that you are innocent until proven guilty, and that there is this need for evidence in any accusation of a crime, no matter how unimportant this might be. For instance, if I am being accused of speeding in Europe, the police has to obligation to provide me with photo evidence that either I or my vehicle was actually speeding at the location and time of the accusation. In Germany there is even the extra obligation that my face should be recognizable in that evidentiary picture, with a time, date and place stamp.
It all makes sense.
Not so much here in the US. For Car Design TV I have the privilege to drive and evaluate many cars year in and year out. All cars are brand new, often barely out on the market if at all, all clean and shining. These cars generally seem to attract attention of the passers by, simply because they had not seen them before. Similarly these cars also seem to attract the attention of the California Highway Patrol, the famous CHIPs, but in a not so nice way.
Over the 5 plus years of this publication I never had any trouble with the CHP, not until the economic crisis started here. Since then the CHP seems to be extremely keen on following me at a distance when I drive one of the OEM vehicles, ready to jump on me for infringing any rule they may deem I have done. Of course the easiest one of those is speeding, and so did this pass.
Sadly though, the CHP does not have a burden of proof here in this country. It is enough for any CHP officer to state that I was speeding, and he can just write me a ticket. It is my right then to subsequently accept the ticket and pay the hefty fines, or take it to court and let a judge decide. However, in front of a judge I would then have to proof that I was indeed not speeding, and mere claims from witnesses confirming this will not suffice.
Since I am still not in the habit of carrying computerized GPS equipment tracking my every move in any car, so I have no legal proof of innocence and thus, I am guilty in the eyes of “The Law”. Going to court would then subsequently take me well over 3 hours, would cost me the that plus driving time back and forth in lost income, and would ultimately be useless, so I end up paying anyway. Guilty until proven innocent.
BUT… that is not the end of it… If that happens, it goes on your record, and apparently gives your insurance company the legal “right” to double your monthly insurance fees without even mentioning this to you. So too felt my 21 Century Insurance company, and they duly did just that, nearly doubling my monthly fees. Protesting does not help. It is their ‘Right”! Guilty until proven innocent. I paid, thus I am guilty!
So, what can we do against this? Speeding tickets are an excellent and important source of income to a State, County, City, so it is unlikely that they would suddenly pass any law demanding clear evidence of any accused speeding crime. That would cause the risk that their revenue might be severely drained, so that will never happen.
T3 Motion, renowned from their 3 wheeled vehicles, brings out the Motiontrak 300 Series In-Car Data Recording System, a system which tracks your car continuously, and keeps a 90 minute back up of that data, so you have time enough after being stopped to download that specific data set, store it, and use it as evidence against the police misconduct, the abuse of power that is so evidently taking place here at the moment.
- Continuous Recording of Location, G-Force and Speed. Able to see route and driving habit of the vehicle through shocks,Â vibration and location.
- Integrated with Googleâ„¢ Maps for GPS Location. Software integrates Googleâ„¢ Maps for vehicle movement overview.
- Triggered Event and Constant Recording Options. Recording Modes can be either continuous or triggered by an event.
- Software to Analyze Recording Video. Search, play and analyze your data and also convert format for presentation.
It is not cheap, but compared to 1 or 2 speeding tickets, it is already a worthwhile investment!