Norfolk judge throws out red-light camera tickets after NewsChannel 3 Investigation

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It's a battle no one in Virginia has been able to win. That is, until today, when a Norfolk judge decided to throw out the red light camera ticket of Navy sailor David Butler.

“He didn’t believe it was fair, and acquitted me of the charges,” said Butler.

Butler gives all the credit to NewsChannel 3. Our Taking Action Investigation into red-light cameras in Norfolk showed how the city shortened yellow light times on the very day enforcement started.

After the cameras snapped his car running a right turn red light at Chesapeake Boulevard and Little Creek Road, he went into court armed with evidence.

“WTKR NewsChannel 3, Laurie Simmons, found the news report on the Internet,” said Butler. “I presented it to the judge showing him that they changed the light timing phase 3/8ths of a second lower without any cause or justification.”

The judge even subpoenaed Norfolk's assistant city traffic engineer for the case, grilling him in open court.

"Was it just coincidental the timing of the lights was shortened the day the cameras started?”

"Did it have anything to do with revenue?"

"Do you see how this looks?"

“He wanted to know why, the specifics on who gave him authorization, why they thought they needed to reduce it,” said Butler.

In the end, the judge not only threw out Butler's red-light camera ticket, but asked the city for the names of everyone who he convicted at that intersection in the past because he will be throwing out their red-light camera tickets as well.

“Standing up there, I was pretty proud of it. It’s going to make a huge difference,” said Butler. “It’s a big win for the city, and a big win for NewsChannel 3’s investigation.”

This case could have huge implications for other drivers.

What about those who fought and lost their red light cases at other intersections where the lights were lowered? Will they be able to appeal their cases?

How about all the people who paid their tickets and chose not to go to court? Does the city have to give their money back?

We asked Norfolk officials today, and they say the city attorney is currently reviewing the judge’s opinion, to find out what the law requires.

Related Content:

Red light camera traps: Does science prove our yellow lights are too short?

Are cities taking away yellow light time after getting red light cameras?

Gotcha! How Red-Light Cameras are catching more drivers with shorter yellow lights

Who is exempt from red light camera tickets?


    • David Reinke

      they are just setting the story up, just like any other article , if he was a doctor they would of said,.. joe blow from va beach a local doctor had his red light ticket thrown out a court.

    • Richard McCargar

      More importantly, who was the assistant city traffic engineer called in to court to testify in the case? The judge was reported to have been “grilling him in open court.” That name would have been important to know.

  • The Don

    Was it a clear violation or in the grey area , that info is not provided. So having said that , it’s a 50/50 Call so oh well…happy travels

  • James Walker

    Setting yellow intervals too short is one of the two money grab scams for red light cameras. The other is to ticket safe slow rolling right on red turns that federal research shows virtually never cause crashes.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

  • Mommy

    We all understand the importance of the red light, we were all taught in school at an early age that red means “stop” and that yellow means to come to a stop or slow down, Caution etc. But if the local city governments are utilizing these “Photo Enforcement” cameras as a way to make more money it is obvious by the documentary that Channel 3 showed is true and as a taxpayer that is overtaxed with property, epass/tolls and now photo cameras well hell yeah I would throw it out in court too! I mean I don’t know how many times I get the green light to turn and before I can even get my vehicle across the intersection the dang light changes to yellow and I am of only 4 vehicles that gets to cross. And yes this is one of the locations(Chesapeake Blvd and E. Little Creek Rd).

  • Stephen Donaldson

    Short yellows are the Bread and Butter of the RLC SCAM industry.

    Witness this exchange between a RLC cop and engineer when Ambers were increased before RLC.

    “As a result of an adjustment made in the yellow-light duration period at most of the red light camera enforcement system locations, revenues have decreased,” an April 27, 2010 memo from the Oakland Police Department to the city administrator explained. “Prior to this adjustment and after the installation of the system, yellow lights were set at three to four seconds. This change in the yellow light timing has resulted in a reduction of approximately 40 citations per day. The Transportation Services Division (TSD) and OPD are continuing discussions of the impact of this change, and possible solutions.”

    The daily reduction of 40 violations represented the potential for millions in lost revenue — a problem requiring a “solution.” Excluding cameras that had not been fully operational prior to the timing change, the total number of violations immediately went down 56 percent with the longer yellows. This infuriated Oakland Police Lieutenant Anthony Banks Sr, who was in charge of working with the program vendor.

    “What is the reason for the increase in the timing phase?” Banks fumed in a January 12, 2010 email to the Transportation Services Division manager Wlad Wlassowsky. “What needs to be done to have them changed back? This will obviously have an effect on the program that will require an explanation at the next report in April.”

    THAT RLC “cop” was more concerned OVER REVENUE, NOT SAFETY!

    But that is what RLC turn cops into. RLC employees more intested in money than safety!

    Read more on the RLC SCAM:
    camerafraud on Facebook

  • Ken

    So if I wait 3/8 of a second longer before entering an intersection am I assured that no reckless driver will sail (SIC) through the light and maim or kill me?

  • James Walker

    For Ken: You don’t have to wait longer to avoid crashes with split second violators caused by short yellows. They clear the intersections during the all-red phase and before you see a green and start into the intersections.

    The vast majority of camera tickets go to safe drivers who endangered no one.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

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