Loud & Clear: Listeners care about red light cameras

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Colorado Matters listeners had a few things to say about our conversation with Congressman Ed Perlmutter and his bill seeking a national ban on red-light and speeding cameras.

"Ban, Baby Ban," wrote Chuck Altvater on Facebook.

During the segment, we heard from Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. He said that the cameras improve public safety: "What I know is that we average about 17 hit and runs a day in Denver -- anywhere from fender benders to fatals -- and that these lights change people's behavior."

Dan Mercer, of Denver, takes issue with that, writing that the cameras aren't safe: "They create a huge distraction in busy intersections. A bright flash and fear have no place on the road."

Proteus Duxbury, of Highlands Ranch, echoed that concern: "In the snow and ice, they are very dangerous in that they encourage speeding drivers to slam on their brakes."

Bill Oldsen thinks this is a local issue: "Who is Perlmutter or any other politician to dictate how a State or Municipality enforces the traffic laws?"

Some listeners asked us to address the commonly held belief that you don't have to pay tickets from automated enforcement devices. Some argue that since the tickets weren't directly handed to a suspected traffic offender by an officer, they aren't legally binding. Josh Johnson is a criminal defense attorney in Denver, and a former journalist who has blogged about this.

He says when a citation arrives in the mail, "it's not formally served, it has no real legal force to it. It's just another invitation to waive your right to be served. If you don't respond to the second one, at that point the city can choose to try to serve you. And that can be by having someone come out to your house, knock on the door and the process server is there hands you the ticket."

If you or an adult in your household are not served the violation in person or by certified mail within 90 days, you are no longer required to pay it, Johnson argues. However, according to one police department -- Denver's -- the city will act to formally serve the citation after 15 days and the fine will increase.

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