NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Cameras capture thousands of traffic violations on New Orleans streets every week, and the NOPD reviews them. We go behind the scenes to see what officers are looking for after several consumer concerns came in to our Defenders hotline.
Carrollton Avenue at Canal in Mid-City ranks high when it comes to the number of traffic camera violations in New Orleans. We watched as the driver of a red SUV turned right on red. That's allowed at the intersection, but we noticed she rolled right through the light before turning.
"A rolling stop consists of not stopping. You'll see brake lights in the video that you witnessed, but they did not come to a complete stop. The tires have to come to a complete stop," NOPD Lt. Anthony Micheu said.
Disregarding a red light carries a $135 fine.
"So far this year, we already reviewed over 65,000," Micheu said.
Micheu is the commander of the NOPD's Special Operations Division for traffic, and he says officers scan thousands of violations a week. According to Micheu, officers reviewed a total of 207,000 tickets in 2014. He also explained that officers approved more than 98 percent of them, meaning less than two percent got thrown out.
"When an officer gets it, they're to not only sit there and check the license plate with the name, registration and the owner and look at the picture options and the violation specifically, but then they're to click on the video portion," Micheu said.
If officers don't approve a violation, they can reject it. A prime example would be if a plate doesn't match the registered vehicle.
"If you're looking for an F-150 and it's on a Fiat, those are things that'll stand out. The officer will say it's a rejected violation," Micheu said.
But he says it's not always that easy, and that may have been the case when a camera near the foot of Canal Street captured a dark-colored car going 62 mph. The driver was going almost double the speed limit.
"Yes, it's my license plate, but it's not my car," Jonathan Klein said.
Klein was shocked when he got the $235 ticket in the mail because he says there's no way he was driving his 2007 Honda Civic that day. It was in a mechanic's shop waiting for repair. He later learned the shop had been burglarized and his plate stolen.
"You can't tell the vehicle color from the picture or any of the videos online, and these tail lights do not match with the 2007 make of the Honda tail lights," Klein said.
Micheu said officers try to make the best assessment, but it's not always clear-cut. Klein, who has already had to get a new plate, must now contest the violation that's not his, and he was under the impression based on information he was given from traffic camera call-takers that he'd have to attend at a hearing at City Hall.
"Once he sits in a hearing, he has documentation that his plate was stolen.. he has documentation that his car was at this particular shop and he can report all those things through the reporting process absolutely it would be amended," Micheu said.
But Klein says he can't afford to take off of work, and now he's turned to the FOX 8 Defenders for help.
Here's what we've learned: The city says Klein doesn't need to attend the scheduled hearing in person. He can elect to have a hearing by mail. In that case, he would need to send in documentation that includes a police report for the stolen plate.