A traffic infraction can be issued by either an officer or prosecuting attorney as long as either party has probable cause to believe that an infraction has been committed. The officer may issue an infraction that did not occur in his presence. Therefore you may receive a traffic infraction from private video recordings.
Likewise, an officer need have probable cause that a crime has been committed in order to issue a criminal traffic citation. The private video recording may be the basis for the officer’s probable cause belief.
Although only probable cause is necessary for the issuance or either the infraction or citation, the evidentiary standard for a finding of committed or guilty is much higher.
I concur- in addition you should also be aware that Effective January 1, 2008, A new section is added to chapter 46.61 RCW to read as follows:
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a person operating a moving motor vehicle who, by means of an electronic wireless communications device, other than a voice-activated global positioning or navigation system that is permanently affixed to the vehicle, sends, reads, or writes a text message, is guilty of a traffic infraction. A person does not send, read, or write a text message when he or she reads, selects, or enters a phone number or name in a wireless communications device for the purpose of making a phone call.
(2) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to a person operating:
(a) An authorized emergency vehicle; or
(b) A moving motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to:
(i) Report illegal activity;
(ii) Summon medical or other emergency help;
(iii) Prevent injury to a person or property; or
(iv) Relay information between a transit or for-hire operator and that operator's dispatcher, in which the device is permanently affixed to the vehicle.
(3) Enforcement of this section by law enforcement officers may be accomplished only as a secondary action when a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of this title or an equivalent local ordinance or some other offense.
(4) Infractions under this act shall not become part of the driver's record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120. Additionally, a finding that a person has committed a traffic infraction under this section shall not be made available to insurance companies or employers.
[*2] NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. This act takes effect January 1, 2008.
The police may issue a citation from video recordings. Whether the traffic citation will stand up when contested by an infraction attorney is another thing. Several legal issues may come in to play in such a case, including the reliability of the recording, the identification of the violator, and the underlying violation.
I expect RCW 46.61.668 (3) will be a frequent issue in these cases. It state, "Enforcement of this section by law enforcement officers may be accomplished only as a secondary action when a driver of a motor vehicle has been detained for a suspected violation of this title or an equivalent local ordinance or some other offense."
I would recommend consulting with an attorney who deals frequently with infractions to fight the ticket -- it may be dismissed or reduced.
It depends on the state as to whether or not driving while texting is considered an infraction. In Massachusetts there is a bill before the legislature regarding driving while texting and also cellphone use while driving. (see: http://massdrivinglaw.typepad.com/massachusetts_driving_law/2008/02/how-do-our-cell.html)
To answer the second part of your question - you can be issued a citation from a video, however there is an argument as to whether or not that citation will stand up in court.