June 25, 2009 in City

Ticket cameras attract lawsuit

Group says fines too high in Spokane, other cities
Richard Roesler richr@spokesman.com, (360) 664-2598

OLYMPIA – Eight ticketed drivers Wednesday filed a lawsuit alleging that 19 Washington cities, including Spokane, are overcharging people who get automated traffic-camera fines.

A Spokane police spokeswoman said the department hadn’t fully reviewed the case but that the city’s traffic-camera ordinances were thoroughly vetted before they took effect.

“We’re pretty sure we had our ducks in a row before the cameras ever went in,” Officer Teresa Fuller said.

Attorneys for the eight ticket recipients are seeking class-action status, which would dramatically expand the number of plaintiffs.

“The intent of the Legislature was primarily safety, not raising of revenue,” said the complaint, filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court.

State law says traffic-camera fines “shall not exceed the amount of the fine issued for other parking infractions within the jurisdiction,” according to the complaint.

Spokane’s fines comply with that, Fuller said.

“We have a $250 parking citation in the city of Spokane,” she said. “Our photo-red citations are half of that.”

The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Rob Williamson, could not be reached for comment.

The suit was brought by four people from Seattle, two from Lynnwood, one from Lakewood and one from Puyallup. Their fines ranged from $64 to $124 per violation.

The defendants are the cities of Spokane, Auburn, Bonney Lake, Bremerton, Burien, Federal Way, Fife, Issaquah, Lacey, Lake Forest Park, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Monroe, Moses Lake, Puyallup, Renton, SeaTac, Seattle and Tacoma.

Dan Mitchinson contributed to this report.

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