Beaufort News

ITraffic attorney says paid fines negate class-action suit over traffic cameras

The attorney for iTraffic, the company that helped launch Ridgeland's camera system on Interstate 95, has requested that a lawsuit against the town and the company be dismissed because the drivers who sued have paid their fines.

By doing that, the drivers admitted guilt and have lost their right to sue, the attorney claims.

The class-action suit, filed Dec. 20 in federal court by two Florida residents and a South Carolina resident, alleges various aspects of Ridgeland's use of automated cameras to ticket speeders on its stretch of I-95 are unconstitutional. Columbia attorney Pete Strom filed the suit on behalf of the three drivers and "several thousand" others who have been mailed tickets by the town since the system was put in place in August.

In a response, Morgan Templeton of Charleston, the attorney for iTraffic, asked federal Judge Sol Blatt to dismiss the lawsuit, which also names Ridgeland's police force and other town officials.

"The plaintiffs are not arguing that they did not commit a crime," Templeton wrote in the 12-page filing. "Rather, they are complaining that they got caught. In fact, the plaintiffs have conceded that they were speeding by virtue of the fact that they have paid the tickets.

"It would be inconsistent for them to now come to this court and maintain their innocence in this action and seek to recover damages for criminal activity."

Templeton's motion did not specifically address Strom's accusation that using "unauthorized mail service" to deliver tickets to offending drivers -- many of whom live outside Ridgeland's jurisdiction -- amounts to an illegal arrest.

However, Templeton rejected the assertion that town and iTraffic officials conspired to deprive drivers of due process.Blatt has yet to rule on Templeton's motion, according to court records.

Ridgeland attorneys have not responded to Strom's initial filing, which asks that the town refund all fines and that it stop issuing tickets using the camera system.

Attempts Tuesday to reach Strom were unsuccessful.