Five missing words on some photo radar speeding tickets may have cost the City of Winnipeg and the province a cool million bucks — or more.
Improper wording on 2,574 photo radar tickets issued in one construction zone on Kenaston Boulevard south of Scurfield Boulevard between June 27 and July 1 has prompted officials to cancel them outright and order refunds be dished out where appropriate, Winnipeg police said this morning.
A photo radar van's computer wasn't updated to reflect a recent legislative change to the Highway Traffic Act regarding speeding in construction zones.
The affected tickets cited infractions under HTA Section 95(1) when they should have been tagged as "speeding in a designated construction zone" under Section 95(1) (b.1), police said,.
The mistake is being put down to an "administrative error."
This particular photo radar location was the only one where this happened, police said. It is usually an 80 km/h zone, but because of the construction was reduced to 60 km/h.
It was Manitoba Justice which made police aware of the issue.
Police recommended cancelling the tickets or issuing refunds for ones already paid out of fairness, said Det. Sgt. Natalie Aitken.
The face value of the tickets was is estimated at $1 million, exclusive of court costs or other surcharges which could apply if the ticket is upheld in court.
Police had the option of reissuing new tickets to motorists but elected to not go that route, Aitken said.
As for the drivers nabbed speeding but now won't have to pay: "They're fortunate," she added. The hope is them getting a ticket at all will act as a deterrent.
There were hundreds of additional photo-radar tickets issued in this one construction zone during the affected timeframe but they were perfectly valid ones.
Regardless of the snafu, police noted the high volume of tickets at the location, saying it was an indication people aren't getting the message to slow down in construction zones.
They are vowing to continue construction-zone speeding enforcement. All mobile photo radar units have since been checked out and are performing correctly, police said.
The province will being mailing letters out to affected motorists with instructions for how to get refunds where applicable.
People with photo radar who want to get more information on whether their ticket is affected can call 204-945-3156 or head to the summary convictions courthouse at 373 Broadway, police said.
In May, the province saw new legislation enacted regarding speeding in construction zones. Fines were hiked and lower speed limits were to be enforced even if no workers were present.
The law was changed as a response to the tragic October 2010 death of highway worker Brittany Murray, 21.