City continues to harass driver cleared of red light ticket violation

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Local media is reporting that ten more red light cameras are in place. Here’s the list, courtesy of Matt Stiles’ City Hall blog:

* NB South Wayside at Gulf Freeway
* NB Woodridge @ Gulf Freeway
* WB West Bellfort Avenue @ Southwest Freeway
* NB Fairbanks N. Houston @ Northwest Freeway
* NB West Sam Houston Parkway South @ Westpark Drive
* EB F.M. 2351 @ Gulf Freeway
* EB South Post Oak Boulevard @ West Loop South
* NB Northwest Freeway @ Mangum Road
* WB South Sam Houston Parkway East @ Telephone Road
* SB Stella Link Road @ South Loop West

And HPD’s official statement is:

“Our priority is to promote the safety and welfare of the citizens of Houston,” said HPD Sgt. Michael Muench. The ultimate goal of the program is to change driver behavior by increasing driver awareness and discouraging dangerous driving and red light running.”

No, if the ultimate goal had been to change driver behavior and discourage dangerous driving, the city would have lengthened yellow light times in addition to other intersection modifications, before resorting to a revenue-generating program that assumes drivers are guilty.

Speaking of assuming drivers are guilty, KPRC-2 Investigates recently looked into the problem of red light camera mis-identification. Stephen Dean talked with a local resident who received a ticket, but the vehicle in the photo didn’t come close to matching his vehicle. The problem? A one letter difference in the license plate.

The driver who received the notice then had to take a day off from work, spend it at court, and convince a judge that it wasn’t his car on the ticket. The judge agreed and wrote “not liable” on the violation notice, but that hasn’t stopped the city from sending demand notices to the wrongly-ticketed driver. He is still battling the city.

According to KPRC’s report, 150 tickets have been challenged and 30 have been dismissed. That low number of dismissals is proof, according to HPD Sgt. Michael Muench, that the program is successful.

Another way to look at it is that 30 people were wrongly ticketed, and had to take time out of their lives to prove it. And from the sound of Dean’s report, that still doesn’t stop the city from harassing those folks whom a judge has cleared.

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Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.