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New red-light cameras yield 237 citations in a month

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 | 6:47 p.m. CDT; updated 11:27 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 7, 2009

COLUMBIA — In their first month, cameras installed at two intersections caught a daily average of almost eight drivers running red lights, according to figures released by the Columbia Police Department.

Between Sept. 4 and Monday, cameras at the intersection of Providence Road and Broadway and at the intersection of Stadium Boulevard and Worley Street have resulted in 237 citations to drivers who ran red lights.

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As of Monday, an additional 11 citations had not yet been printed.

The company that owns and operates the cameras, Gasto USA, reviewed photographs of 1,138 vehicles at the two intersections and rejected 806 for various reasons. A sensor malfunction was the most common reason.

The camera at Stadium and Worley prompted 128 citations. The camera at Broadway and Providence prompted 120.

The number of violations is only slightly larger than what was found during a 25-day grace period, in which violations were counted but no citations were issued.  

In that period, the camera recorded 296 violations, but 63 were rejected.

Columbia Police Department Public Information Officer Jessie Haden said the vehicles that weren't cited met the department’s “rejection criteria.”

She said citations would not be issued in cases in which the driver’s face cannot be seen or if the gender of the driver photographed did not match the gender of the owner.

Haden said vehicles that stop after the line were also rejected.  

The cameras are activated once a vehicle crosses the line during a red light. The device snaps four photos: the driver, the license plate, the vehicle crossing the line and then the vehicle crossing the intersection.

The department issues citations if it has clear images from all four angles.

The cameras do not capture illegal right turns.

Violators are mailed a $120 ticket.

Columbia lawyer Bogdan Susan said he has not disposed of any cases involving the devices but said clients have contacted him regarding potential issues surrounding their use.

He said if someone who has lent their vehicle to someone of the same gender with similar features, and the borrower is caught breaking the ordinance, the owner of the vehicle could be unfairly charged.

Susan said the devices raise the question of whether those who receive citations are experiencing a violation of their Sixth Amendment rights, which guarantee the right of a person on trial to confront their witnesses.

“You don’t have a police officer you can subpoena to courts or subpoena to cross-examine,” he said.

He added: “How do you cross-examine a camera?”

 


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Comments

melissa vroman October 16, 2009 | 10:42 a.m.

Can someone tell me whether or not a citation will be given out to motorists sitting through a red light and blocking the intersections entirely?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz October 16, 2009 | 12:11 p.m.

If the car entered the intersection on a green or yellow, I don't believe the camera would trigger. I'm also guessing Gatso wouldn't forward the ticket to the city since the driver did not technically run a red light if they did not enter the intersection without a red light present.

(Report Comment)

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