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Data show Iowa motorists don't often appeal citations from traffic enforcement cameras

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Data show drivers in Iowa's largest cities don't often appeal citations from traffic enforcement cameras.

Just 2.7 percent of motorists in Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Des Moines and Sioux City appeal such citations, The Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/1QKuHpO ). The city of Davenport doesn't track the information and officials in Muscatine didn't provide the data.

The success rate ranges for drivers who appeal the citations. In Council Bluffs, 83 percent of motorists had them dismissed. The rate ranges from 20 to 50 percent for those in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Sioux City.

Since 2010, more than 666,000 enforcement camera citations have been issues in Iowa, according to the newspaper. Just over 18,500 have been appealed.

Motorists may not often appeal because the process can require appearing before a city official during a weekday. Marnie Webb, 48, of Des Moines, appealed a citation last fall that claimed she traveled 47 mph in a 25 mph zone. She argued to a city clerk that the circumstances of the citation made it impossible for her to be traveling at that speed.

"I think people should fight if they think they have a case," she said. "But it is time consuming."

But the appeals process can vary by city. In Sioux City, Police Capt. Melvin Williams says motorists can call or visit the police station without an appointment.

"Anything an officer giving a traffic citation alongside the road considers, officers on the phone or at the station will consider" when deciding whether to dismiss a citation, he said.

City officials say the cameras make roads safer by enforcing speed limits and stops at red lights. But the automated cameras are under some scrutiny from state officials and residents.

The Iowa Department of Transportation recently developed new rules to oversee cameras placed on state highways. Earlier this year, the agency ordered officials in several cities to turn off some of the cameras unless they could prove the devices made the roads safer.

Officials in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Muscatine are challenging the orders in district court. Sioux City also has pending litigation over the DOT rules. Some residents in Des Moines are challenging the city's camera system in a lawsuit that's pending in federal court.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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