City Refunding Tickets On Too Fast Traffic Camera

Too fast on the camera trigger: that's the claim by some Chattanooga residents when it comes to one of the new red light cameras and now a city judge agreed with them and is ordering refunds of fines for 176 violations.

Judge Russell Bean says it all started when wne driver pulled up to the intersection, at Martin Luther King and Pine Street downtown, and the light changed from yellow to red. One of the new red light cameras caught him allegedly running the light.

Well, the light change seemed a little fast to the driver, so he decided not to pay the 50 dollar fine, and instead took his ticket to Judge Bean's courroom.

When Judge Bean heard the case during the first round of traffic camera cases, he decided to check out the man's claims for himself. Bean says he down to the intersection and actually timed it.

"I counted 1, 2, 3 and watching the light turn," Bean says. "I knew, on average, the lights usually take about four."

Bean had the city's traffic engineers check it out, and it turned out, the man with the ticket was right. City engineer John Van Winkle says the light should have changed in 3.9 seconds. Instead, it was turning in 3, almost a full second early.

Van Winkle's engineers decided to go back and look at all of the tickets from that intersection and decided to refund the drivers who were caught in that .9 seconds. That was 176 tickets.

"There are people that would say, that may not be big fans of photo enforcement who would say, 'Ah ha! We caught you!" Van Winkle says. "Well we caught it and we immediately took care of it."

Van Winkle maintains that the city was "not trying to trick anyone." The city traffic engineers say they're paying the money back in the interest of keeping the system honest.

Not all of the tickets received at that intersection are being refunded however. Just the drivers who got caught when the light turned in the 3 to 3.9 second range.