Lawyer beats Portland's red light cameras

Credit: Mark Ginsberg

Portland lawyer Mark Ginsberg beat City Hall for a red light camera citation he received last February.

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by Michael Rollins

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

kgw.com

Posted on May 6, 2010 at 9:33 AM

Updated Friday, May 7 at 8:05 AM

PORTLAND -- Portland lawyer Mark Ginsberg beat the city this week on a red light camera ticket he got last February.

The $287 ticket and its technology seems infallible - and frustrating - to most who receive the images of their car in the intersection.

Ginsberg was not satisfied with simply caving in.

"The two pictures the camera took did not show me running a red light," he told KGW Thursday morning.

He asked the city for an explanation of the technology involved, and the meaning of some numbers on the photo. What he learned was startling.

"The city of Portland, in their own documents they sent to me, said they don't know how accurate their own photo red light cameras are right now."

Specifically, Ginsberg's ticket showed his car just feet shy of a crosswalk, ironically at an intersection that includes the City Hall he was fighting. There was a number R249 at the top. The red light runs for 25 seconds and Ginsberg learned that he was one-tenth of a second within what the city defines as a violation.

Coding on the second photo showed him going 15 mph, a speed he said suggested that he only traveled a few feet before the light was green when he went through the intersection.

Rather that fight this specific case in court, the Police Bureau agreed to drop the charge and review how it calculates the timing of cars entering the camera snare at Southwest 4th and Jefferson.

Ginsberg, whose specialty is representing bicyclists, said he has received many congratulatory call since the story first appeared in the Oregonian.

And Ginsberg points out that he has no quarrel with the use of red light cameras. Used properly, he said they increase traffic safety. But there was a doubt with this signal. "They are issuing tickets to people perhaps they shouldn't be."

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