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News: Santa Fe / NM
Judge shoots down Albuquerque red-light camera challenge
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December 5, 2006
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - A judge has refused to issue a temporary restraining order against a city traffic enforcement program that targets red-light runners.

But attorneys who filed a class action lawsuit against the city of Albuquerque say they are confident they will ultimately win the lawsuit and get rid of the camera-based program.

Three plaintiffs, including a social worker and a single mother cited under the program, are named in the lawsuit. They allege violations of due process, trial by jury and other protections.

Another allegation is that the city threatens to seize vehicles if their owners don't pay the fines.

The lawsuit sought a court order to halt the program until legal issues are settled.

But state District Judge Valerie Huling denied the motion Friday because the city has yet to seize a vehicle under the program, and therefore the plaintiffs are not in any danger of having their vehicles taken away.

"We lost our motion because of the city's inability to follow their own ordinance," attorney Rick Sandoval said, referring to the city's failure to seize any vehicles. "We can still win our suit."

Greg Wheeler, an assistant city attorney, has said the traffic cameras will withstand the legal challenge.

The city currently has 10 traffic cameras monitoring intersections. When a vehicle is caught on camera, the owner is notified a fine is being charged. Violators are declared a public nuisance because the vehicle was used as the instrument of a nuisance