Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Crashing through red lights

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BATON ROUGE - Drivers are ripping through the red lights on East Baton Rouge streets, but there is worry among leaders that people continue to disregard the law and fines.

The red-light cameras were installed in 2008.

Since then, the system's snapped hundred of thousands of potential violators.

The driver caught the most by the cameras has 66 tickets in all, which equals out to more than $11,000 in fines.

The first ticket cost $117 and each subsequent ticket within a 12-month span cost $167.

The company operating the cameras, ATS, would not release the name of the biggest offender and would only share the license plate, SOZ-493.

License SWA-003 brought home 23 tickets and WHE-166 and TDS-429 got 20 tickets each.

"I still don't intend to pay the ticket," accused violator Jim Goodwin said.

Cameras caught his vehicle running the red light at the intersection of Scenic Hwy. and Blount, but Goodwin is refusing to pay on principal.

"What angers me the most is there is no verification of who's driving," he said. "You're not innocent until proven guilty. You're guilty until you're proven innocent and that's not our way of life."

"Those that are running it are going to run it regardless," insurance agent Brian Prejean said.

Prejean's seen the cameras in action, and he knows the inaction the system has on insurance premium.

"Most of the time, you can look at the ticket or look online and it clearly states it will not go against your driving record," Prejean said.

That false reassurance or non-enforcement gives some East Baton Rouge drivers the feeling to do as they please. Right in the places you drive everyday.

The intersection with the most violations is north bound South Sherwood Forest Blvd. at North Harrells Ferry.

Cameras there have caught nearly 19,918 drivers ripping through the light.

That's followed closely by north bound College Drive and 1-10 with 19,332

Northbound Airline Hwy. at Goodwood Blvd. saw 14,654 drivers disobey the red light.

Southbound South Sherwood Forest Blvd. at Coursey Blvd. had 13,692 red light violations.

"The effectiveness of these red light cameras is just not there," East Baton Rouge councilman Buddy Amoroso said.

Drivers tend to disregarding the fine, according to Amoroso.

"If California is our model, it gets to a point where it just becomes ineffective. You can't collect the money," he said. "So I don't know if it's going to be five years from now ten years from now there comes a point where you just have to take them out and that's what we are seeing in both California and the east coast."

Amoroso confirmed the company operating the cameras can turn you over to a collection agency.

But as of right now, ATS is not doing that, he said.

He's concerned the city will shorten the length of the yellow light to make up for the money they don't collect.

"Some municipalities have shortened the yellow lights to create more tickets to keep the revenues the same," he said. "Because there is always going to be a percentage of people who say oh I've got a ticket I'm going to go ahead and pay it. So you try and give more tickets out and that's what these other states' history has been."

Amoroso admits the parish is still making about $1 million a year off the red light system.

A proposed law to extend the time of a yellow light didn't get enough support to pass out of the House at the Capitol.



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