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Town could bring suit over tickets


A Knoxville woman recently made headlines for having 41 unpaid red-light camera tickets at City of Knoxville intersections.

While Farragut’s photo enforcement manager, Ben Harkins, doesn’t know of anyone who is “highly delinquent” in paying red-light camera fines, he says there is a process in place for those who choose not to pay.

“What are our options if they fail to pay? Of course, they ultimately could be turned over to collections and ultimately this could show up as a bad debt on their credit report.

“Also, the governmental entities have the right to sue,” Harkins said.

But Harkins said those options would be a last resort. Redflex, the Town’s automated enforcement vendor, sends collection letters to those who owe fines until they remit.


“But when it gets to a certain point in time, they would get turned over to collections,” Harkins said.

Harkins pointed out it would not always be cost-effective to file a lawsuit, particularly if a person only owes a nominal fine.

“However, if you have multiple unpaid violations, you could be sued, or maybe would be sued,” Harkins said.

“But until we’re faced with it, I really don’t know,” he added.

Harkins was quick to note that Farragut’s photo enforcement program was different than Knoxville’s or Oak Ridge’s, just as the officers who operate each program are different.

“From city to city, county to county, each one is different. So if there is a program in Florida and they do it a specific way there, that may not be the way we do it here,” Harkins said.

“It’s all run locally,” he added.

Harkins also noted that, according to the most recent statistics for the red-light cameras, the number of violations in Farragut is down 50 percent.

2010 first quarter stats (from Jan. 1 to March 31) reveal that 7,168 incidents were recorded and only 3,520 citations were issued. That total number of violations works out to an average of 39 citations per day, down from fourth quarter 2009’s average of 86 citations per day.

“It just shows that people are paying attention,” Harkins said.

Finally, Harkins encouraged citizens to visit the town of Farragut’s Web site, www.townoffarragut.org, where he has placed documents pertaining to the red light system.

“We’ve got a lot of documents on there — one talks about the local history … one about if you’ve received a citation; another one is all about turning right on red, where you’re supposed to stop, what you can do and what you can’t do.

“And one is about how the system works: it talks about how you can be cited through one of the cameras, where you’re supposed to stop.

“Basically it answers a lot of the questions I’ve gotten from the public,” Harkins said.

Also on the Web site are state laws regarding traffic lights and the use of traffic cameras.

Visit the Town Web site and click on the “Farragut Traffic Enforcement Program” tab.

For more information, e-mail Harkins at bharkins@townoffarragut.org or call 865-966-7057.  

 

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