• Bremerton to consider getting rid of red light cameras

    By: Linzi Sheldon

    Updated:

    BREMERTON, Wash. - City officials in Bremerton are considering getting rid of red light cameras, in part because too many people are taking advantage of a loophole in the law.

    In 2008, the first year the city's program was operating, Bremerton issued 10,547 red light tickets. After paying the company that runs the program and paying for court costs, it made about $347,000.

    But last year, the city issued 6,337 tickets and only made about $109,000.

    “Last year was our very worst for the number ticket and the money collected," Mayor Patty Lent said.

    Lent predicts the city will make even less this year. She thinks people are driving more carefully, especially around Bremerton's five red light intersections. But over the past two and a half years, she's noticed a growing trend.

    "People have found the mechanism of getting around fines," she said.

    State law has a loophole: red light cameras are not allowed to take a photo of the driver, only the vehicle and the license plate.

    It means drivers can take advantage of that, not just in Bremerton, but all over the state.

    The city of Seattle issued 31,061 red light tickets in 2012 and 32,166 red light tickets in 2013 at Seattle’s 27 red light camera intersections.

    Attorney Steven Hemmat showed KIRO 7 the kind of form people fill out to state under oath they're innocent.

    "You can indicate whether the vehicle was stolen, was sold to another person, or in the care, custody or control of another person," he said. He emphasized it's against the law to lie on the form but recognized that doesn't stop everyone.

    Mayor Lent knows that too well. She said if Bremerton's red light program isn't paying off, it may be time to stop recording. She plans to evaluate it as part of the budget process this year.

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