Federal Way among cities named in lawsuit over red light cameras

The City of Federal Way, along with 18 other Washington cities, is named in a class action lawsuit, filed June 23, concerning red light photo and school zone speed cameras.

The lawsuit, filed by eight individuals living in King and Pierce counties, contends the cities of Auburn, Bonney Lake, Bremerton, Burien, Federal Way, Fife, Issaquah, Lacey, Lake Forest Park, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Monroe, Moses Lake, Puyallup, Renton, Sea-Tac, Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma are violating RCW 46.63.170 through their use of red light and school zone speed cameras, according to the lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court.

The clients are represented by Bainbridge Island's Williamson and Williams. The firm's attorneys are arguing the cameras' use is legal, but the dollar amount associated with the tickets issued by the cameras may not exceed the maximum amount permitted for a parking ticket within the same jurisdiction.

The law states: "Infractions detected through the use of automated traffic safety cameras are not part of the registered owner's driving record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120. Additionally, infractions generated by the use of automated traffic safety cameras under this section shall be processed in the same manner as parking infractions... However, the amount of the fine issued for an infraction generated through the use of an automated traffic safety camera shall not exceed the amount of a fine issued for other parking infractions within the jurisdiction."

Georgina Luke of Seattle is a plaintiff in the suit. Luke received a $124 ticket for failing to come to a complete stop before making a right-hand turn on Dec. 7, 2008, in Federal Way. She paid $64 for the infraction, according to the court document.

The lawsuit seeks restitution for the fines paid to the cities by the plaintiffs, an injunction that will prohibit the jurisdictions from continuing to issue ticket amounts exceeding those of parking violations, and a judgment for costs and fees associated with the lawsuit.

Federal Way employs the use of four red light photo cameras. The city plans to expand the program to include three more red light cameras and three school zone speed cameras by the end of summer. The city gathers an average of $61,900 per month from its current four cameras, according to a May memo by interim city manager Brian Wilson.

The city's law department has not yet been made aware of the lawsuit, staff said.

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