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N.J. Suspends Red-Light Camera Initiative Over 'Yellow' Timing Calibration Snafu

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- There is controversy over red-light cameras in the Garden State.

The state's program has been suspended, because many municipalities failed to check the accuracy of the camera units.

It means some who've already paid tickets may be demanding refunds, CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported Wednesday.

At one corner in Newark a burgundy SUV could be seen driving through a red light. It was a bad move at an intersection equipped with red-light cameras, but the driver may not get a ticket pending a calibration check of the timing of the yellow-to-red cycle.

"That's ridiculous. How would you put in something to enforce traffic adherence and not have it calibrated correctly. That just doesn't make sense," driver Ron Andrews said.

But that is indeed the case. New Jersey discovered that of its 85 red-light cameras, 63 have not been calibrated to make sure the "yellow" light is long enough to comply with state law.

"Once it's yellow, then you go, you get a ticket! They got you!" driver Juanita Sermons said.

"I definitely think it's something to look into. Obviously, people are getting erroneous tickets for things they shouldn't have," driver Nef Wray added.

The state is now working with municipalities to make sure the yellow-to-red timing is correct. The camera units remain "on" but no tickets will be issued until calibration checks are complete, officials said.

The suspension of the program raises one obvious question: what should you do if you've already paid a ticket generated by one of the cameras that wasn't properly calibrated?

Attorney John Patti said you should talk to a lawyer, or check with municipal court about "post conviction relief."

"Work out some type of deal with the prosecutor, or have the ticket just expunged absolutely with a refund of money," Patti said.

Newark said it is confident its 19 red-light cameras will pass muster once the checks are complete.

A state senator who wants to kill the red-light camera program said this snafu is just one more reason to do that.

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