Hundreds of speeding tickets in Boulder, Colorado may be invalid thanks to a resident who complained about one of the city’s photo-radar vans, which frequented a spot clearly marked “no parking” and “tow-away.” Said police commander Robert Thomas: “You can’t have a van breaking the law and a citizen getting a ticket for breaking the law — that’s not right.” [dailycamera] (Thanks to Matt!)


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  1. reykjavik says:

    “You can’t have a van breaking the law and a citizen getting a ticket for breaking the law…”

    Why not?

  2. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @reykjavik: He means, “You can’t have a government vehicle driver breaking the law and not getting a ticket, and then have a citizen breaking the same law and getting a ticket; that’s unfair.” Only he, like most of my fellow Americans, skip the crucial step of thinking before speaking.

  3. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    See? I should have said “skips.” Let that be a lesson to me.

  4. AddMan says:

    @reykjavik: It would be like the police doing something illegal, say searching your property without a warrant, in order to arrest you. You may be guilty, but that doesn’t mean that the policy, or any other government agency / person, can break the law to prove it.

  5. nequam says:

    @speedwell: They’re not breaking the same law. One is parking illegally, while the other is speeding illegally : P

  6. reykjavik says:


    Thats not the same at all!

    One is a government infringing your constitutional rights to due process, the other is a simple little fine which you could always fight in court without having any of your rights or property taken away.

  7. sburnap42 says:

    Huh. Does this mean that you can get out of a speeding ticket because the cop have to drive over the limit to pull you over?

  8. Dobernala says:

    @sburnap42: Its not illegal for a cop to speed to pull someone over.

    The photo van was parked illegally in the hopes of catching people who may or may not break the law. Hence, it is illegal.

  9. frowelishnu says:

    Robert Thomas for Attorney General.

  10. RobinB says:


  11. TPK says:

    This isn’t quite the same but I’ve often wondered… my local sheriff’s department has a “dummy radar car” that they drive around here and there and leave on the side of the road. Looks all in the world like a radar trap, except there is no radar, and no living person inside. They will typically leave it parked for 24-48 hours at a time.

    So here’s my question… in order to make it only plainly obvious (instead of blatantly obvious) that it’s a dummy car, they have the windows all tinted very, very dark. I strongly suspect these windows are well beyond the legal level of tintedness for street use.

    It seems a bit wrong that they can use what I suspect is a non-street-legal car to do this sort of law enforcement activity. I mean, sure it’s not wrong to park the car on the side of the road (excepting “no parking” areas as documented in this post), but why do they get exemption from the tinted window laws when they drive it around from place to place?

    I’d love to sit and watch it one day, then when they come and drive away, call the state police to give them a ticket!

  12. Parting says:

    @TPK: You suspect, but you dont’t know. Stick to facts, please.
    Request a check up from you cite, or file your concerns.

    Just no ”It’s probable, they suck!” please.

  13. forgottenpassword says:

    Suprising! Most times the cops could care less if they break some of the laws they enforce. And if you bring it up (and are a nobody) you often risk getting arrested (punished) for doing so. But most charges are dropped afterwards.

  14. strathmeyer says:

    @Dobernala: “The photo van was parked illegally in the hopes of catching people who may or may not break the law. Hence, it is illegal.”

    I’m sorry, but you appear to have left out a sentace before the word “Hence”.

  15. GearheadGeek says:

    @reykjavik: Are you a cop, perchance? You seem to think it’s okay for the cops to break the law in the process of enforcing (often arbitrary) speed limits (with stupid photo-radar vans, no less.)

    I personally think the police should at the MINIMUM be held to the same standard to which they hold citizens, and things like “professional courtesy” in which cops refuse to ticket other cops for a traffic offense for which they routinely cite “civilians” should be treated like the corruption they are.

    While it’s specifically allowed in most states’ motor vehicle code for the police to violate traffic laws in an emergency while operating their “safety equipment” (lights and/or sirens) they shouldn’t be able to break the law in the process of determining whether or not others are doing so. If they can’t find a hidden place to legally park their big-brother enforcement van, perhaps they should stop sending people tickets in the mail.

  16. GearheadGeek says:

    @sburnap42: The cop is allowed to speed in pursuit of a speeder he’s already clocked because he’s in pursuit of a “criminal.” In many cases they do this in a not-quite-legal fashion because they’re typically required to run lights and/or sirens when operating outside the motor vehicle code, and I’ve seen many wait until they’re right on the back bumper of the car they wish to stop before they turn on the lights, but who’s going to give THEM a ticket? Other cops typically won’t even if they’re violating egregiously while off-duty in their personal vehicle.

  17. @GearheadGeek: Never been to Los Angeles, Miami, or New York have you? Cops are known for turning on sirens to go through red lights and turning them off once through. Of course this isn’t exclusive to those three cities, they’re just the primarily known examples. Not so much in New York or Miami though as is done in Los Angeles.

    Anyway, on a separate note, Cops seem to be on quota again. Around my area, where previously it was a rare sight to see a cop lest they were actually on call, alot seem to be sitting looking to catch people speeding, not signaling, running a stop sign (Thank god), etc. One was out the other day with the radar gun standing on the corner flagging down drivers (40-60 in a 35 zone are typical). The other was outside the turn into my area where he sat in the car looking the catch someone speeding which persons regularly do (40-50 in a 25 zone are typical).

    Feels weird when you know the cop is there, a guy is tailgating you because you ARE going the speed limit as to not get a ticket, you get past the point the guy sees the cop and yet continues to tailgate you or – even more humorous – backs off. That seems to be a daily occurrence now…

  18. @AddMan: Except it seems to currently be a daily occurrence.

  19. lincolnparadox says:

    My guess would be that the only reason this complaint worked is because Boulder has a law that dictates how speed traps must be conducted (ie. must not commit a non-moving violation). In most other places, this argument would have been laughed at or the “no parking” sign would have been removed that day.

  20. @Papa Midnight: I’ve peeped the heightened presence of the LAPD as well. On one thoroughfare (Sepulveda between El Segundo and Rosecrans), there were SIX motorcycle cops perched with radar guns at the ready on both sides of the street.

    As for the siren thing, I’ve called in complaints about that as often as possible. They usually explain it away with “well, the car could have been answering a call, then heard someone closer respond”. Yeah, riiiiiight.

  21. madanthony says:

    @Papa Midnight:

    The sirens through the light thing is popular in Baltimore City too – probably because Baltimore has a ton of red light cameras, and they will give cops tickets for running a red light – unless their lights and sirens are on. So cops put lights and sirens on, run the light, and when the traffic light camera catches it they don’t get tickets.

  22. murray2255 says:

    You should considered suing if you ever actually receive a ticket from one of those cameras. Minneapolis residents did (where I’m from) and they were determined to be illegal. Wish they had thought that through before they wasted all that tax money …
    The reason? In instances in which someone ELSE is driving the car, cameras put the burden of proof on the car’s owner – they have to, in effect, rat someone else out for a speeding ticket, just to prove that it’s not themselves. Also wish I had thought of this before I ended up paying for one in Phoenix :(

  23. GearheadGeek says:

    @Papa Midnight: Actually I’ve been two 2 of the 3, and they’re hardly the only places where cops think they’re above traffic laws and will do stupid illegal shit like that just to blow the light on their way back to the station or to break for dinner. My point, if you were paying attention, was that cops SHOULD have to follow the regulations to the letter (they have to know them in order to become cops in the first place, after all) but no one tickets them for their infractions due to “professional courtesy.” Cops love the big lie that they’re “trained, professional drivers” and that somehow exempts them from being courteous, friendly drivers who follow the rules of the road.

  24. @madanthony: Funny thing is, I go through Baltimore City every day on my way to Uni and I don’t see them do that. Interesting… Perhaps it just doesn’t happen as much on North Avenue or Liberty Heights.

    @ceejeemcbeegee (just debatin’ not hatin’): On Sepulveda, I understand. People speed down there all the time… Then again, where don’t they (Adams Blvd is a damn speedway and I won’t start on Crenshaw). But in El Segundo? Now that makes no damn sense to me.

    @GearheadGeek: I was just naming 3 random cities where it is done the most and would be the most known. Coincidentally, I’ve lived in two out of the three and visited the third on a high basis so I just called those out from experience.

  25. brewmonkey says:

    What about the meter maids to double park to give you a parking ticket.

  26. Brine says:

    Don’t the EXEMPT license plates they use give them the right to ignore traffic laws?

  27. Brine says:

    @Brine: Nevermind, that’s just exempt from registration.