New Orleans passes ordinance legalizing traffic cameras

Alejandro de los Rios Nov. 5, 2010, 2:23pm

The New Orleans City Council voted 6-1 on Nov. 4 to move oversight of the city's red light and traffic cameras to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) from the Public Works Department (PWD).

The measure came as a response to the Louisiana Supreme Court's ruling that it was against city charter for the PWD to administer traffic infractions. The city council said that the provision is retroactive and all previously issued tickets must be paid, with anyone who's already paid fines having now right to recover the funds.

There are several lawsuits in Orleans Parish Civil District court challenging the legality of the city's traffic cameras.

Metairie lawyer Joseph McMahon III, who's also fought against red-light cameras in Jefferson Parish and in Lafayette, leads a class-action suit that alleges all the tickets issued since the cameras began operating were done so unconstitutionally because they are not properly authenticated under Louisiana evidence law.

Several messages left at City Hall regarding the constitutionality of the red light cameras have gone unanswered.

New Orleans attorney Ed Washington filed the injunction against the city, which claimed that the traffic cameras violated the city charter.

On Oct. 1, Orleans Parish judge Paulette Irons ruled in favor of Washington. The city challenged the ruling, which was upheld by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court.

Tickets for running a red light cost $145 while speeding tickets can range from $80 to $240. The Times-Picayune reported that the city has collected $9.4 million in revenues from the tickets and a proposed 2011 budget projects $18 million in revenue next year.

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