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Red-light runners caught by camera get tickets voided

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SAN DIEGO — A judge dismissed nearly 300 tickets issued to drivers caught by cameras that record motorists running red lights, handing ammunition to opponents of such systems.

Judge Ronald Styn of San Diego County Superior Court said on Tuesday that the camera evidence was inadmissible because a private corporation's role in the operation of the system and its per-ticket collection of fees violated state law.

The ruling has no direct legal implications for similar red-light traffic systems in roughly 50 other cities in the nation.

But lawyers for the motorists said other judges likely will take the ruling under consideration.

"It's very limited, but his ruling will receive a lot of deference," said Arthur Tait, one of three lawyers who represented the 292 drivers whose tickets were quashed Tuesday. "It's the first time that a traffic court has looked this closely at what is going on."

The case originated when motorists banded together to fight the camera-issued tickets.

The city is expected to appeal, but has suspended use of the cameras pending a review prompted by complaints about the system's accuracy.

The San Diego police department continues to support use of the cameras, which officials said have reduced red-light running an average of 45 percent at the 19 intersections where they are installed.