Red-Light Camera Problem in Paradise Valley Caught Quickly, Says Judge; Only 40 Attended Driving School

Elsa Lynch, a judge and court manager in Paradise Valley, tells us that only 40 people who received bad red-light camera tickets took defensive-driving class. None had yet taken the state-mandated Traffic Survival School class for red-light runners, and no hearings had been yet held for people with the tainted tickets, she says.

Still, if you're one of the 40 -- that's eight hours of life gone. PV isn't reimbursing anyone for his or her time. But the Valley's own Bel Air is sending refund checks to anyone who paid the fine or class fee. The defensive-driving schools involved will refund the portion of the fee they collected, Lynch says.

Nearly 1,200 people received tickets in May and June for running the left-hand turn arrow at Tatum and McDonald.

Lynch says the town took notice when someone who had received one of the tickets sent officials a video to prove the intersection's yellow light was timed at three seconds instead of the typical four-and-a-half seconds.

Lynch says the town reimbursed about 500 motorists for a different problem two years ago. When you hand out as many tickets as Paradise Valley, one of the country's photo enforcement pioneers, you're bound to make a few mistakes.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.