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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Bill seeks cap on red light runner fines

OLYMPIA – Spokane and any other city in Washington that uses cameras to catch red light runners could have their ticket fines limited to $25 under a proposal before the Legislature.

State Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, the prime sponsor of House Bill 2780, said the cameras create an “unholy alliance” between cities and the companies that maintain them and share revenue the tickets generate. He likened them to speed traps cities once set up to help pad their budgets.

“This is not Tijuana; this is Washington state,” Hurst told the House Transportation Committee.

Greg Parks of American Traffic Solutions, the company that has the contract for the cameras in Spokane, Seattle and Bellevue, argued that the cameras are set up to reduce accidents at dangerous intersections: “It is a safety program. It’s not about revenue.”

To remove any profit motive, Hurst’s bill sets the maximum fine at $25. He said he’s willing to negotiate, but it should be similar to a parking fine. A ticket in Spokane now costs $124.

It also requires the yellow light to be on for at least four seconds, which is the time Spokane already uses, Spokane Police Officer Theresa Fuller said.

The Spokane program is about safety, not revenue, Fuller said, although she questioned the comparison to a parking fine: “You’re not going to kill somebody not paying your parking meter. You can kill somebody running a red light.”

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