Judge tosses suit over red-light tickets

Plaintiffs contest camera-captured traffic violations in Baltimore

November 03, 2005|By NICOLE FULLER

A class action lawsuit challenging Baltimore's red-light-camera tickets, maintaining in part that the timing of traffic signals' yellow lights had been too short and resulted in fraudulent citations, has been dismissed by a city Circuit Court judge.

The three plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit in August 2004 contended that the traffic signals in their cases had yellow lights lasting less than 3 seconds. One of the plaintiffs says 4 seconds is the standard.

Violations carry a $75 fine but no points. Tickets can be contested in District Court - an approach taken successfully by two of the plaintiffs, while the other paid the fine, all before joining in the lawsuit against camera system operator Affiliated Computer Services Inc.

Judge Kaye Allison dismissed the lawsuit against ACS last week, finding no federal or city standard for yellow-light times. In her decision, Allison said the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices instead offers guidance on yellow-light times, stating, "A yellow change interval should have a duration of approximately 3 to 6 seconds."

Maryland legislators passed a law last year that requires yellow lights to last 3.5 seconds if there is a camera at the intersection. The lawsuit predated the statute.

Thomas J. Minton, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said, "We will probably file an appeal."

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