The reason you can dispute tickets from red light cameras

8:49 PM, Oct 3, 2011   |    comments
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"Surprised, ticked off, disappointed - anything you'd expect when getting a ticket," he said.

Goldstein wasn't even the one to get it, his 60-something-year-old mother did.

"I love my mom, but she's a speeder," he said.

He decided to help her with the photo radar ticket.

Goldstein says his mother is not the registered owner of the car, so technically, he can get that dismissed.

In Denver, the car gets the ticket, assuming the driver is the registered owner of that car. If you're not the registered owner, the ticket can be dismissed.

Under Colorado law, Denver Police send the ticket out to the first registered owner of the car. The Denver Revised Municipal Code 54-833 talks about presumptiveness. The registered owner of the vehicle is presumed to be the driver of the vehicle in violation.

If you're not the registered owner of the car, unless the registered owner tells on you, and provides your information to DPD, the ticket can be dismissed.

Aurora's rules are similar.

"An Aurora ticket can only be dismissed if the registered owner signs an affidavit [located on the back of the photo-red-light ticket] affirming in writing that they are not the driver and secondly, submits a copy of their DL which clearly shows that the person captured by the camera is not the same person in the DL photo," Det. Bob Friel, spokesman for Aurora Police, said.

Friel says the license photo is examined by two separate individuals - one at the company and one at the department - before a decision is made as to whether to throw out the ticket.

Even though Mrs. Goldstein speeds, her son wasn't sure she was speeding this time. Denver Police say an employee inside the van has to see the violation occurring before a ticket is issued.

Denver Police also double check the tickets generated by the photo red light cameras. Each ticket is checked twice by a human being.

"The first step that I do, check to make sure the light is red," Ted Porras, Photo Enforcement Unit supervisor for Denver Police, explained.

Denver says it doesn't issue a ticket for every violation caught on camera.

Between January and August of this year, 30,886 tickets were issued; 18,858 were not.

"We'll only issue a violation if we in fact feel we can fight it, we can prove it in court," Porras said.

In February, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published a status report for red light running. It said red light running killed 676 people and injured an estimated 113,000 in 2009. The study also said, "Red light cameras save lives - 159 were saved between 2004 and 2008 in the 14 biggest U.S. cities."

Denver and Aurora Police showed 9NEWS videos of red light runners to prove their point.

"We've seen a huge success from the program from our perspective," Friel said. "We've seen the more serious accidents, which are the front-to-side collisions, reduced at many of our intersections."

For those who claim police operate the red light cameras as a source of revenue, consider this: From January through August of this year, Denver made $279,576.64 from tickets issued through the red light camera system. That is a drop in the bucket, considering the city's budget is $1.4 billion.

From January to June, Aurora made $122,273. The city's budget is $232,686,439.

In Denver, the money goes back to the general fund. In Aurora, the program pays for itself and for programs like DARE, Teen Court, Victim Witness Boar and Nexus CSA Support.

"The success of the program can be measured in the fact that we haven't had any fatal accidents," Capt. Joseph Padilla, who runs Denver's Traffic Operations Bureau, said. "We're able to provide a presence in school zones and work zones. Unfortunately, I don't have a police officer to place in all those locations."

Goldstein told 9NEWS he planned to pay his mom's ticket, but any ticket received in the mail can be disputed in court.

The Houston City Council voted to discontinue the city's photo red light program this past summer. The decision was a result of a November referendum, where the citizens of Houston were asked if they wanted to keep the program and they said no.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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