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Denver Collects Fines On Drivers Who Stop At Red Lights

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A driver received a ticket for crossing the white line at a red light in Denver. (credit: CBS)

A driver received a ticket for crossing the white line at a red light in Denver. (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – The city of Denver is bringing in thousands of dollars in fines every year by ticketing people who stop at red lights. They are ticketed because their tire goes over the white line that marks where the vehicle should stop.

The red light cameras at various intersections in the city will flash and the driver will be sent a $75 citation if the vehicle goes over the white line, even if the driver stops for the light.

“They are stealing money. Who has extra money to pay?” asked one driver.

“I think this is an injustice, it’s just completely unfair,” said another.

“I didn’t go through the red light. I just didn’t stop at the white line,” said yet another driver. “I feel it’s a frivolous charge. If an officer had been present, I would not have been given that ticket.”

That driver went to court to fight the ticket and lost.

According to the law, Steady red indication:

a. Vehicular traffic facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a clearly marked stop line but, if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until an indication to proceed is shown; except that

1. Such vehicular traffic, after coming to a stop and yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection, may make a right turn unless an official sign is erected at each and every intersection where such right turn is prohibited.

2. Such vehicular traffic, when proceeding on a one-way street, and after coming to a stop, may make a left turn onto a one-way street upon which traffic is moving to the left of the driver. Such turn shall be made only after yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic proceeding as directed. No such turn shall be made if a sign is erected giving notice of any such prohibition at each and every intersection where such left turn is prohibited.

b. Pedestrians facing a steady circular red signal alone shall not enter the roadway, unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian-control signal.

c. Vehicular traffic facing a steady red arrow signal may not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by such arrow and, unless entering the intersection to make such other movement as is permitted by other indications shown at the same time, shall stop at a clearly marked stop line but, if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until an indication to make the movement indicated by such arrow is shown.

d. Pedestrians facing a steady red arrow signal shall not enter the roadway, unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian-control signal.
(Code 1950, § 508.6)

The pictures are reviewed at the Denver Police Photo Enforcement Division before a ticket is issued.

“When we review the violation image and the front tire is (only inches away from) the stop bar, we will not issue the citation,” said Denver Police Dept. Photo Enforcement Supervisor Ted Porras.

Porras said when a car stops over the line it can block the intersection, which forces pedestrians to go around cars or even get stuck in traffic.

Rudy Bettmann received a ticket and acknowledges being over the line.

“This is the photograph I received and it looks like my front tire was right on the back edge of this line,” said Bettmann.

He even took measurements and his own photos to fight the ticket, but he lost.

“Are these cameras to make money for the city or are they for safety?” CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger asked Porras.

“It is for safety,” Porras said. “If this was simply a money-generating machine, all that people need to do is follow the law and we wouldn’t have a reason for the program.”

CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger found most everyone who challenged the white line tickets in court lost. But he did find one judge offering a reduction from a $75 fine to $40 for a guilty plea. The reduction comes only after the defendant answers affirmatively to the judge’s question as to
whether they will drive safer in the future.

Another knocked down the fine to $50 if someone had to wait for more than an hour for their court hearing.

Denver City Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz has asked the photo enforcement department to give drivers a break.

“They feel if they blow through a red light they deserve a ticket, but if their wheels just inch into the white line and there’s no safety hazard around, that that’s being nitpicky,” said Faatz.

The city of Denver is promising a study on the effectiveness of its red light cameras.

Colorado Springs announced the end of its red light cameras just last week after studies showed they didn’t improve safety.

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