Red Light Cam Complaint Prompts Review, Refund

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - Tennessee lawmakers have put the brakes on a bill that would have changed the rules for those cameras Knoxville set up to catch folks running stop-lights.

It would have mandated all stoplights have at least a 5 second cycle between yellow and red.

The bill died in committee Tuesday, but getting caught on camera doesn't mean the law's got you, dead-to-rights.

Gordon Boyd's found one case where police admit they made a mistake.

They, not the camera.

Police have built in what they call wiggle-room. You broke the letter of the law, but on review it's not enough to earn a ticket.

So what happened to Garett Bagwell?

"A lot of people know that it is a relatively blind curve," Garett Bagwell's known that a camera watches over the stoplight where West Summit Hill meets Western and Henley.

But as he was heading home from work February 6.

"I saw the light, I slammed my bakes. I approximately stopped slightly over the white line, Bagwell says.

The tape shows him, all the way over.

"But the vehicle came to rest before the pedestrian crosswalk and clearly came to a complete stop," says Knoxville Police Captain Gordon Catlett.

"I did stop, that is correct sir," says Bagwell.

"We have developed a policy on the red light camera, for instances just like this not to issue tickets on them," says Capt. Catlett.

So, when Garett got a ticket in the mail anyway. "I was surprised."

"Why? I don't have a good explanation for that," Catlett admits.

Especially, he says, when the officer reviewing Garrett's tape, put his case in the reject pile.

Several folks have challenged their caught-on-camera tickets.

More than two dozen this month, and last. But before today, Knoxville Municipal court's dismissed only one, for a misread plate number.

Municipal Court sets aside the first Wednesday of every month for such challenges, beginning at nine in the morning.

But some folks saying timing's part of the trouble.
"It would cost more in money to take a day's worth of work off, than pay the $50 fine that is sent to you," says Bagwell.

So Garett paid.

But, after we had Knoxville Police review the video:

"I contacted the appropriate parties, and had Mr. Bagwell's account reimbursed for the full amount," says Capt. Catlett.

"You're getting your money back," Boyd tells Bagwell.

"We'll I certainly appreciate it. Glad they're taking a look at it," Garett says.

Garett believes two officers, not one, should view every violator's video before they're cited.

Police say that's not practical.

But, if you can prove extraordinary circumstances, somebody else was driving, you were on a medical emergency, you've got an out.

But, you'd better be prepared to bring that other driver to court, or that note from the hospital er, to prove your case.


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