In the state of Washington USA, my daughter and son-in-law were joint recipients of a red light camera ticket. The law clearly states that the "operator of the motor vehicle" is responsible for the fine, so it would seem to me that the burden of establishing who that operator was is on the state. (they are both registered owners of the vehicle in question)
What is the legal basis for the state charging two people with an infraction and leaving it up to the accused to determine who is at fault?
There are some good and thoughtful answers here, and I appreciate the effort. However, most center on describing the camera ticket process or explaining response options, which isn’t what I was asking.
I was asking how two people can be both accused, (actually found guilty in absentia…) of an infraction for which it is physically impossible for both of them to have committed because there can be only one operator. Like the classic story of murder on a snowbound train; one of the passengers must have done it, but you can’t simply declare them all guilty! (Yes, I understand the traffic infraction isn’t a crime, but still it must follow a legal, and logical process to determine fault.)
Perhaps this is more a philosophical debate without a single correct answer, but several comments have led me to consider the following: If instead of the camera a police officer had pulled the car over after observing that it failed to come to a complete stop before turning right, a citation would be issued that I believe would need to comply with RCW 46.64.015. The name and driver’s license number of the operator would be recorded, and as a moving violation I believe that points would be assigned to that person’s driving record.
If during the course of this same traffic stop the passenger asked that the officer instead issue the citation to them to keep the driver from accumulating more points I don’t believe that would be allowed. If either the passenger or driver asked the officer to accept the fine directly on their behalf to avoid a ticket resulting in points, I believe that would be considered bribery. If the officer winked and suggested that they pay him/her directly to avoid points, that would also be illegal.
If we agree with and accept as truth the points in the paragraph above, how is a redlight camera ticket that promises no points in exchange for cash functionally, ethically, or morally any different?