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Judge Determines Yellow Lights Too Short, Throws Out Red Light Tickets

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Dana Kozlov Dana Kozlov
Dana Kozlov is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. She...
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CHICAGO (CBS) –Before a traffic light turns red in Chicago, it’s supposed to sit on yellow for three seconds.

But a Chicago judge says that’s not always happening and some people are getting tickets they don’t deserve.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports red light cameras are not all that popular, but if yellow lights are running short, and what the judge said is accurate, camera opponents say that means more tickets. And they say that’s a problem.

Barnet Fagel, aka “the red light doctor,” makes it his mission to fight questionable red light tickets. You could have knocked him over with a feather Monday when in court administrative he sayslaw judge Robert Sussman apparently said, “On his own, he said, ‘I throw about 75 percent of these because the yellows are too short.’”

That after the judge tossed two tickets Fagel fought. Mark Wallace of Citizens to Abolish Red Light Cameras was in court, too.

“Robert Sussman said to the city that he city has got to get their act together because 70 percent of the cases that he is hearing he has toss out,” Wallace said.

The judge’s statement shines a brighter light on the growing controversy surrounding red light cameras and yellow light times. Fagel says he uses his own, unmanipulated computer program to prove in some cases that yellow lights don’t last long enough.

But city spokesperson Adam Collins says only 18 percent appealed red light camera tickets have been overturned this year and defended the yellow light duration, saying they last their required time. But those fighting the expensive citations aren’t convinced.

“This is a clear problem that’s unsafe,” said Wallace.

Collins indicated there won’t be any double checking of yellow light times, saying they have confidence in their system of measuring them.

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