New Orleans, La. -- A St. Bernard man got a traffic camera ticket in New Orleans for a vehicle that looks nothing like the car he drives. The FOX 8 Defenders jumped on the case and got results. FOX 8 helped him get the ticket dismissed in May. However, after another violation two months later, Caleb Frey is questioning the system's efficiency.
"I got a letter very quickly after the (FOX 8) report aired saying that I'd been cleared," said Frey of Chalmette. He received a letter from the City of New Orleans Photo Safety Program in May, saying his red light violation 'had been dismissed' because his license plate was 'identified incorrectly.'
The FOX 8 Defenders showed the ticket spelled out Frey's name and vehicle, a 2008 Honda Accord two-door. It also listed his VIN number and license plate. One glance at the vehicle pictured on the ticket, though, and you'll see it's not even close to a Honda Accord. Traffic camera video captured what appears to be a Nissan Xterra, a full size SUV disregarding a red light. The FOX 8 Defenders pointed out that, while the plates look a lot alike, the difference is in one letter.
"The first time it was running a red light, and it was a $135 fine. This time they appear to be speeding, and the fine is $110," said Frey.
Two months after our first report, Frey received another ticket. This time the violation stated he was going 47 in a 35 MPH zone on Canal Street at N. Olympia.
"This is the second infraction I've received for a vehicle that's not mine, not registered to me, but the ticket has been issued to me. This is the second time," said Frey.
In addition, the vehicle pictured in that brand new citation is that same four-door Nissan Xterra identified incorrectly the first time around. Traffic camera video in June captured that SUV zooming by in the far right lane, yet Frey, the owner of a Honda Accord, got the ticket again.
The city says the system is based on license plate recognition, but a police officer signs off on each ticket. And for the second time in a matter of months, this one didn't get enough attention.
"We have an appeals process for that and have simplified the process in recent months. The person should go through the appeals process," said Ryan Berni, city spokesman.
The city response doesn't address what some, including Frey, feel may be a flaw in the system.
"It's an inconvenience, it's a headache. It has me questioning the entire traffic camera system," said Frey.
Another city spokesperson later informed FOX 8 that Frey's second citation had been dismissed. The city confirmed that the "M" on the license plate captured on camera looked like an "N," and the incorrect owner was notified.