An end to speeding tickets from cameras? Not so fast, say police

Israeli court throws out fines based on speed cameras. But police say they'll keep the cameras - and continue tracking offenders.

David Rosenberg ,

Speed camera/traffic camera
Speed camera/traffic camera
Nati Shohat/Flash 90

An Israeli court ruled Thursday that traffic cameras used by police across the country to catch drivers exceeding the speed limit are not reliable, and may not be used to determine whether drivers are liable for punishment, including fines and license citations.

The Magistrate’s Court of Akko in northern Israel handed down the decision Thursday in response to a petition by a group of drivers who say they were falsely accused of exceeding the speed limit based on the faulty evidence presented by unreliable traffic cameras.

In accepting the drivers’ appeal, the court cancelled 21 tickets issued for speeding.

“There are real doubts about the reliability of the [speed] measuring system,” the court found.

The reliability of speed cameras used to track drivers exceeding the speed limit has been in doubt for months, leaving the status of tickets issued recently in limbo.

In June, the state prosecutor ordered police not to issue new tickets for speeding based on the evidence presented by speed cameras.

The decision was made after an examination of cameras at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology revealed that the cameras were unreliable.

While the police also employ helicopters, drone aircraft, and traditional traffic stops by traffic police who observe drivers speeding, the use of unmanned speed cameras have greatly expanded enforcement of speeding laws.

After a second examination, the speed cameras were reportedly found to be highly reliable, and police resumed use of the cameras.

The 21 drivers involved in the case had received the tickets prior to the June announcement halting the use of speed cameras, and were frozen for three months, pending the court appeal.

In its ruling Thursday, the court blasted the Standards Institute of Israel, accusing officials from the SII of not telling the truth during testimony.

“The expert [witness] did not speak the truth in court while he was testifying that he and others from the institute had been present during tests conducted in Holland to check the precision of the measuring system,” the court found.

“As such, the testimony does not carry much weight, if any at all.”

Despite the ruling, however, police say they will continue to use cameras to record speeding offenses. While no new tickets will be issued at this time, authorities vowed to complete their study of the A-3 camera systems – a review they say will vindicate their claims on the accuracy of the cameras. If and when the cameras are found to be reliable, police say, tickets will be issued once again.

A police spokesperson also said following the ruling that Israel Police is weighing a possible appeal of today’s decision.