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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 7, 2002

Most camera tickets below judges' threshold

Answers to your traffic cam questions
How speeding program works
Where the cameras are
ACLU list of rights if you get ticket

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Transportation Writer

More than 68 percent of the tickets generated by Hawai'i's traffic cameras last month did not meet the speeding threshold being used by state judges, according to court records.

The photo enforcement program issued 3,686 tickets in February, but only 1,168 of those, or 31.7 percent, were for drivers who went 10 mph or more over the limit.

In mid-February, judges hearing the first contested cases began dismissing all citations for drivers ticketed for going 9 mph or less over the limit. In setting the precedent, Judge Russel Nagata said he was following a longtime police practice of giving speeders a 9 mph leeway. Although the ruling is not binding on others, at least two other judges have dismissed cases using the same guideline.

On Feb. 20, Gov. Ben Cayetano ordered a suspension of the program to fix other flaws in the citations. When the program returned to O'ahu's highways four days later, some observers thought new citations would reflect the court's standards.

Instead, most of the tickets issued between Feb. 25 and the end of the month continued to be for drivers going between 6 and 9 mph over the speed limit.

"It's still early in the process, and we don't know how all the judges are going to rule on this," Deputy Transportation Director Jean Oshita said yesterday. "Our mandate is still to enforce the lawful, posted speed limits."

The February statistics include dozens of tickets for violations in January that were reissued in other names after registered owners of cited cars told the courts who the real drivers were. The figures also show more than 100 cases of drivers going at least 17 mph over the limit.