Fines to put the brakes on red-light runners in Rowlett

After grace period, city will start ticketing violators on Saturday

08:24 AM CST on Friday, March 10, 2006

By IAN McCANN / The Dallas Morning News

The grace period ends at midnight for red-light runners caught on camera in Rowlett.

After nearly two weeks of issuing warnings, the city will follow the lead of Garland, Richardson and Plano and fine violators caught on camera.

"We got a lot of calls from people when the cameras were activated and they saw strobes," said Lt. Dean Poos, a police spokesman. "We had to tell them they were lucky that was just during our warning period."

The city had mailed 155 warnings through Monday, and an additional 166 potential violations are being reviewed by the police department and Affiliated Computer Services, the city's red-light camera contractor.

"Starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, those are going to be citations," Lt. Poos said.

The cameras will initially operate at two intersections on North Rowlett Road at Hickox Road and at Beech Street. Electronic eyes will monitor northbound and southbound traffic.

A third intersection, at Rowlett and Chaha roads, was considered, but the city bypassed that location for now because reconstruction and expansion of South Rowlett Road is scheduled to begin as early as this year.

Under the program, the owners of cars that run the lights will be fined $75 per violation, or $150 if the owner has three or more violations within a 12-month period. Instructions to request an appeal hearing will be included with the mailed citations.

City officials expect the program to generate several hundred thousand dollars a year in revenue, though Lt. Poos said that isn't the point.

"Voluntary compliance is what this is all about," he said. "We're trying to reduce those most dangerous accidents."

In addition to Rowlett and the other cities with red-light cameras, Frisco, McKinney and Dallas are considering similar programs. Private companies get a cut of the fines collected in Rowlett, ACS will receive up to $5,300 per camera per month, with additional revenue going to the city.