Las Cruces Shuts Off Gas and Water Over Unpaid Red Light Tickets

They want their money–
Las Cruces, New Mexico officials are threatening to cut off water, gas and sewer service over unpaid red light and speed camera tickets.
The reported:

With more and more vehicle owners simply deciding refuse to pay red light camera and speed camera tickets, private, for-profit companies and municipalities are growing increasingly desperate. America’s second-largest city shut down its photo ticketing program last year largely because residents who could not afford the $500 citations did not pay them. On Monday, Las Cruces, New Mexico announced it would shut off the utilities of city residents who refused to pay Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian company that owns and operates the cameras.

“The city is notifying offenders by mail that they have until the due date stated in the letter to pay the fines or make satisfactory payment arrangements,” a Las Cruces press release warned. “Failure to comply will result in termination of utilities services.”

Las Cruces claims vehicle owners owe $2 million. To encourage payment of the $100 photo fines, the city says it will employ an ordinance the council adopted in 1988 giving itself the right to shut off utility service to residents declared delinquent for any reason.

“The city may decline, fail or cease to furnish utility service to any person who may be in debt to the city for any reason, except ad valorem taxes and special assessments,” city code Section 28-10 states.

Hat Tip Rachel

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  • ebayer

    I thought it wasn’t about the money they collected in fines ,but the safety factor for installing red light cameras.

    Looks like it was about the money after all.

  • NeoKong

    That is so friggin’ illegal.
    If a landlord ever turned off utilities to collect his rent he would be hauled into court pronto and that is the truth.
    How exactly does any city have control over the gas company…?
    The city is not the provider.
    What else will they do?
    Shut off your cell phone?
    Ban you from the supermarket…?

    Also it seems that the city can only do this to property owners.
    Renters can laugh in their face especially if they live in a large apartment building.

  • bg


    “You ain’t seen nothn’ yet!”

    ~ Barack Hussein Obama


  • Greg

    The converse to the city statement that it may cut off services……… that the residents may cutoff all taxes paid for any reduction in city service.

  • They make the citizens pay for the spy equipment that then gives them tickets to pay more to government or eventually be sucked completely dry. Might be time to sell the spy equipment and elect a mayor and council who are interested in keeping their town alive rather than feasting on it like Socialist parasites.

  • bg


    Debtors’ Prison Returns in the US

    IN JAIL FOR BEING IN DEBT – You committed no crime, but an officer is knocking on your door. More Minnesotans are surprised to find themselves being locked up over debts.

    It’s not a crime to owe money, and debtors’ prisons were abolished in the United States in the 19th century. But people are routinely being thrown in jail for failing to pay debts. In Minnesota, which has some of the most creditor-friendly laws in the country, the use of arrest warrants against debtors has jumped 60 percent over the past four years, with 845 cases in 2009, a Star Tribune analysis of state court data has found.

    Not every warrant results in an arrest, but in Minnesota many debtors spend up to 48 hours in cells with criminals. Consumer attorneys say such arrests are increasing in many states, including Arkansas, Arizona and Washington, driven by a bad economy, high consumer debt and a growing industry that buys bad debts and employs every means available to collect.

    Whether a debtor is locked up depends largely on where the person lives, because enforcement is inconsistent from state to state, and even county to county.

    In Illinois and southwest Indiana, some judges jail debtors for missing court-ordered debt payments. In extreme cases, people stay in jail until they raise a minimum payment. In January, a judge sentenced a Kenney, Ill., man “to indefinite incarceration” until he came up with $300 toward a lumber yard debt.

    “The law enforcement system has unwittingly become a tool of the debt collectors,” said Michael Kinkley, an attorney in Spokane, Wash., who has represented arrested debtors. “The debt collectors are abusing the system and intimidating people, and law enforcement is going along with it.”


  • Dwayne the canoe guy

    “America’s second-largest city”? Arizona’s maybe, but not America’s.

  • Dwayne the canoe guy

    Not Arizona, New Mexico! Duh me!

  • Eddie Baby

    It’s all about the money. Always has been. That’s why government has to be as small as possible. Less money. Less corruption.

  • This “camera” traffic ticket scam has been pulled in a number of jurisdictions due to its inability to be proven accurate. It was always a way to cheaply create a profit for the cities.

    Traffic tickets are taxes. You speed and get a ticket, they don’t take your car from you. They let you go, so you can get another speeding tax ticket later if you want.

    The sad truth is the state gets the majority of the income, but each jurisdiction gets its cut. I think ours was a couple of dollars out of each ticket. It added up over a year.

    That is why I never wrote a ticket unless the guy was a bad guy or the offense was so bad I had to try to adjust the behavior. If you were a working stiff and I stopped you, you’d get a warning- period. I don’t take food money from families

  • Blacque Jacques Shellacque

    I would encourage Las Cruces residents to put lead into as many traffic cameras as possible. If gunpowder-propelled lead is too indiscreet, then use air power. I had a Sheridan .20 caliber pellet air rifle that could take out a streetlight with one shot, right through the lens glass at the bottom.

  • katy

    When public utilities and public safety start collaborating together to doll out punishments, you have a very dangerous, overbearing, lawless form of tyranny.

  • Someone was giving $500 tickets for running red lights!?!

  • coolidgerules

    #1- You are so right. It always has been and will always be about the money. Don’t let their rhetoric or decades of proven behavior fool you.

    In a lot of states, I think the local police force is nothing but a harrasment and revenue generating agency for these buffoons.

  • Robert

    $500 is a draconian fine, amounting to cruel and UNUSUAL punishment.

    The entire city council needs to be challenged on this, and then voted out of office.

  • JDStone

    #2 NeoKong

    Hell yeah they would throw me in jail if I ever tried that with one of my renters.It would make the front page of the Fresno Bee or any large newspaper for that matter. They need to take this all the way to the SC. This is illegal as hell!!

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  • Freddy

    #13 April 24, 2012 at 10:19 pm
    Kevin commented:

    Someone was giving $500 tickets for running red lights!?!

    In lovely SF you can get a PARKING ticket for $976!

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  • FurryGuy

    #2 April 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm
    NeoKong commented:

    It was August 2011 that BART selectively turned off cell-phone service. The official story was to stop a planned protest against BART from “going viral”.

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  • bobdog

    Not to worry. It won’t stick.

    The Racial Justice Department will file an injunction to block it, claiming that it unfairly discriminates against minorities.

    It’s what they do.

  • Earthmover

    Places in Europe hang car tires on the cameras and pour a little gas in the tire
    and light it! Tires burn for a long time.

  • LaDonna In Las Cruces

    Our daughter got a red light ticket one time and it was $100. Don’t know if it goes up from there. I hate the cameras and avoid the intersections they are on when I can. Feels like we are living in a draconian state. Wait! We are. Our city officials are all dems and make the stupidest choices for our town. Would love to more somewhere else, but I think they entire world has been explored, so there’s no where to go to get away from stupid anymore.

  • chuck in st paul

    I love red-light cameras and speed cameras. 99% of those wailing and sniveling about it are the folks who consistently break both laws. duh.

    As for the $500 fine, I expect this is the result of getting several offenses in some period of time like one year. Double down on stupid and the fines go up.

  • bobdog

    The city with the $500 fines was LA. San Francisco and Toronto have $500 fines still in effect. First offense.

    Chicago is about to pass an ordinance to install speeding cameras in school zones, where the speed limit is 20 MPH. Imagine THAT in rush hour.

    LIke most cities, the actual speeds on city thoroughfares is honestly about 40 in a 30 zone, and the Chicago Police force hasn’t enforced traffic laws in 20 years. Now imagine collapsing traffic slowing down to a rigid 20MPH every 10 blocks or so, with a speed camera whirring away.

    It’s because the city Aldermen have such a abiding concern about the city’s fine young schoolchildren. Those guys. Always looking out for our safety, God love ’em. Kinda puts a lump in my throat just to think of it.

    Or is that just my breakfast backing up on me?

  • Jai

    Burn the city down… They cant survive with out you, you can survive without them. THE GOVERNMENT IS SUPPOSE TO ANSWER TO YOU, not the other way around

  • Metcaffeine

    I disagree, Jai. There is a mutual responsibility between the government and the people. The government must answer to the people, but the people must also answer to the government. The government is a system for ensuring that society functions well, and it cannot do that if the people ignore it. It, however, cannot ensure that society functions well if it ignores the people. In this case, I believe the government to be entirely within its rights. People are consistently breaking the law, despite knowing the consequences, and they refuse to accept those consequences. A government cannot function in this situation. They’re going to jail a bank robber, whether or not he wants to be jailed. Likewise, they’re going to fine someone for breaking traffic law, whether or not they want to be fined. From my understanding of utilities, city governments have a large role in providing them, so cutting off repeat offender’s utilities is merely the government not adhering to the deal that the red-light runners already broke.

  • Mike

    Although here in AZ these cameras were supoosed to be for “Public Safety” They are ALL about revenue. Hete’s the thing, if we all got out of the house a bit earlier, and if we drove the speed limit, (which I know will not happen), no tickets can get issued. With no tickets issed, the spymachines would go away. That’s one point, the other is government is for the people, by the people and with the people, election day is approaching, fire them all and hire new ones, that means vote out every incumbant, that will get their attention quickly. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle they are on, they all cater to the special interest groups, and that includes the company in Australia, who is doing nothing more than getting rich off of us. Why did they not get an American company for this?? The more liberties we allow them to remove, the more comfortable they will be taking the few we have left away.