Okay, so this is an official rant.
We know that the City of Bremerton, like most municipalities, is cash-challenged these days. Due to the severe economic downturn, everyone is being forced to make tough decisions, tighten their purse strings, and become creative when it comes to balancing budgets.
It’s just that some are being a little more creative than others.
Red light cameras are one such way to generate badly needed revenue. They’re a finance director’s dream come true! The whole process is fully automated and requires no expensive law enforcement manpower. With a simple ‘click’ of the camera, the offending party is sent a little love note from someone in Phoenix AZ. The love letter then informs them to send their non-disputable $124 check to someone in Michigan State.
Whose to say those cameras don’t snap a few random pictures throughout the day, regardless of whether an infraction has occurred or not? “Oh, we’ve got a budget shortfall this month! No problem! ….Click, click, click!”
It’s ‘Big Brother’ meets ‘Taxation without Representation.’
Bremerton Police Department ticket quotas seem to be another popular revenue source for the City of Bremerton coffers these days.
My son was en-route to his class at Olympic College the other day when he was involved in an accident. The car in front of him stopped abruptly about halfway across the Warren Avenue bridge. Fortunately, the car he hit was an SUV with a huge trailer ball hitch on the back. It sustained very little, if any, damage, but my son’s car was toast.
When I arrived, a Bremerton Police officer was on-site. He stated that my son’s car was inoperable and would need to be towed. I went over to console my son who was still visibly shaken. He said the other vehicle wasn’t damaged and they simply exchanged license/insurance information. The tow truck soon arrived, and we followed him to Town & Country Auto Repair.
A few days later, we received yet another love letter from our good friends at the City of Bremerton. It was a non-traffic infraction for inattentive driving.
Here’s how this scam works:
You have three options when responding to your ticket:
- Send in your money.
- Mitigate the infraction. In other words, admit that you’re guilty, but you want to attempt to negotiate a lesser fee. It requires you to physically attend a scheduled court date.
- Contest the ticket. This option is for those who feel they are not guilty of the infraction. It also involves attendance at a scheduled court date. Unfortunately, if you lose, your ticket will be changed to a ‘traffic’ violation, and will go on your driving record.
For $85 dollars, I can almost guarantee that 99% of the those being ticketed will simply forgo any of the other options, and just pay the fine. How many people are going to want to take the time to drive down to the Bremerton Municipal Court and appear before a judge to negotiate an $85 ticket? And who would attempt to contest a ticket, knowing that if they lost, it would automatically become a ‘traffic’ violation and affect their record?
Here are a couple questions I have for the Bremerton Police Officer who issued the ticket:
1. How did you know that my son was being inattentive while driving? Were you there? Did you actually see him being inattentive. You’re simply assuming that because he ran into another vehicle that his attentions must have been focused elsewhere. There are times when accidents just happen. No one is at fault. Could this have been one of those times?
2. Why didn’t you write up the ticket and give it to us at the time of the accident? Did you get back to the station and realize you were short on your daily ticket quotas?
After having his car destroyed, and racking up the $200 tow bill, the ticket after-the-fact was a nice touch.
The moral to this story is ‘Operating a Motor Vehicle in Bremerton is Expensive. Support Kitsap Transit and take a Bus!’