12/12/2007California: Red Light Camera Goes Wild
More than half of the citations generated by a Capitola, California red light camera are bogus.
A red light camera in Capitola, California is generating $381 tickets for motorists who did nothing wrong. The out-of-control camera is located at 41st Avenue and Clares Street and was designed to ticket motorists headed to the Capitola Mall. Now between 50 and 60 percent of the time the camera is triggered, there has been no violation.
"It's going nuts," Capitola Police Chief Richard Ehle told the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper.
In addition to other problems, the camera is generating tickets for shoppers making legal right turns on red and ticketing motorists who roll forward before the light turns green. Capitola police claim they are "catching" the tickets before they are mailed by ATS, the vendor in charge of the camera program.
Last year, the Santa Cruz Superior Court brought Capitola's review process into question. Police failed to notice that red light camera vendor ATS issueed $9525 worth of duplicate citations to be issued.
"With a new program there's a lot of trial and error," Capitola Police Chief Richard Ehle told the Sentinel at the time.
In the meantime, motorists are cutting through nearby parking lots to avoid the haywire ticket camera. Mall workers fear being forced to go to court to defend themselves against a bogus ticket. Police promise to drop charges against anyone wrongly cited.