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Red-Light Fines May Get Lighter

By Dan McKay
Copyright 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
    Drivers repeatedly caught on camera running a red light would face smaller fines and have more time to pay them under legislation approved late Monday.
    City councilors, after a lengthy debate, voted 8-1 in favor of overhauling Albuquerque's traffic-camera system. The changes now go to Mayor Martin Chávez for his consideration.
    Under the proposed ordinance, drivers would have 35 days to respond to a violation notice— 15 days more than they get now. Violators could also apply to perform community service in lieu of paying a fine.
    The bill would leave intact the $100 fine for someone caught running a red light for the first time. But the fine for a second offense within a two-year period would be $200, $50 less than what's imposed now.
    For the third offense, the fine would be $300 rather than $500.
    The ordinance would also allow the mayor to establish an ombudsman to address complaints about the camera system.
    Voting in favor of the bill were Debbie O'Malley, Sally Mayer, Ken Sanchez, Isaac Benton, Michael Cadigan, Martin Heinrich, Craig Loy and Don Harris.
    Brad Winter voted against it. He wanted to lower the fine for a first offense. Cadigan and Sanchez also supported smaller first-offense fines, but they voted for the bill overall.
    The cameras are stationed at 20 intersections throughout Albuquerque. They photograph drivers who move through the intersection after the light turns red or travel more than 10 mph over the speed limit.
    Violation notices are mailed to the owner of the vehicle, who can contest the fine by requesting an administrative hearing with the city.