Jul 3, 2008

A DAY IN COURT IN KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE

JUDGE ROSS of the Knoxville Municipal Court did not enter the courtroom until 10am on Wednesday July 2, 2008. I had a 9am summons for a Photo Red Light Violation.
One day in late May I received a summons to court for "running a red light" at the intersection of I-640 and Broadway. That intersection is less than 1/4 mile from my residence on Tazewell Pike. I pass through it on average a dozen times a week. The summons came with instructions on how to view the camera evidence at http://www.photonotice.com My personal video can be viewed by entering Notice Number KR00114009 PLATE NUMBER 950KHP and the city code KNXVIL.
When the video starts my Chevy Astro Van is at a complete stop second in line from a signal that says RIGHT TURN ON RED AFTER STOP.

READ THE KNOXVILLE CITY CODE HERE

KNOXVILLE CITY CODE
Sec. 17-506. Traffic control signals.
(3) Red alone or "stop."
a. Vehicular traffic facing the signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain standing until green or "go" is shown alone; provided, however, that a right turn on a red signal shall be permitted at all intersections within the city provided that the prospective turning car comes to a full and complete stop before turning and that the turning car yields the right-of-way to pedestrians and cross traffic traveling in accordance with their traffic signal. However, such turn will not endanger other traffic lawfully using the intersection. A right turn on red shall be permitted at all intersections, except that clearly marked by a "no turns on red" sign, which may be erected by the city at intersections which the city decides require no right turns on red in the interest of traffic safety.

THIS IS MY VIEW DOWN BROADWAY FROM WHERE I CAME TO A COMPLETE STOP



AS you can clearly see the view down Broadway is unobstructed for at least a 1/4mile.

Now I could have sent the city $50
and I could have avoided 4 hours sitting in City Court waiting on Judge Ross to hear my case.
If I had I would not have know that there were at minimum 15 people in City Court that morning for photo violations at I-640 and Broadway. That's 15 people who chose to miss work and go to court rather than pay the $50 fine by mail. My guess is that only some 10 to 25% of those cited would pay the cost of driving to court and the hours of boredom sitting in court to challenge the validity of this photo theft of Knoxville drivers money.

In the end three of the 15 actually chose to sit it out and plead before Judge Ross.
None of us won. All of us ended up paying $118 for the fine plus court costs.
Even though the Judge said "I agree completely with your logic and the fact that you did nothing to endanger the public safety I have to find you guilty under the law." The Judge interpreted the law as meaning that a second stop would be required at the white line regardless of whether that second stop served any purpose or improve the public safety. He said his hands were tied by the law despite his agreement with my position and the positions of the other 2 gentlemen who stayed to plead their case.

Now I can appeal to the Criminal Court. The cost of making an appeal is $134 plus a $250 bond. So the truth is there is no appeal.

Here is my opinion.
This camera is legal thievery and a detriment to our community. At a full stop and a 1/4 mile view down Broadway it is a waste of expensive fuel and time for everyone in the line behind you to stop multiple times before moving onto Broadway from I-640 (this is the westbound exit to head North on Broadway). The right lane is on Broadway for about 150 yards before it turns into Tazewell Pike. Thousands of Knoxville residents are effected by the time spent at this intersection. Once a vehicle has come to a complete stop with a view down Broadway of a quarter mile there is NO PURPOSE served by stopping a second time.

If you've had the 'pleasure' of experiencing rush hour on the section of Tazewell Pike between Broadway and Jacksboro Pike you know what I mean. I see it every day because my residence in it that short section of road that urgently needs to be widened to 4 lanes. There is an accident in that section at least once a month.
See WIDE THE PIKE


This map shows the intersection of I-640 and Broadway.
I-640 is currently handling all of the traffic that used to flow down I-40 through downtown Knoxville so the delays and the cost of fuel have a significant impact on Knoxvillians.
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