Funeral Industry News

Red-Light Camera Tickets Funeral Procession Drivers…Opps

August 27, 2009

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Red-Light Camera Tickets Funeral Procession Drivers…Opps

image Funeral processions are not an exception to laws governing stop lights, public officials say, but some drivers had to learn that the hard way. Cindy Rittenberg ran a red light during a procession at the intersection of Carrollton Avenue and Earhart Boulevard.Rittenberg said the officers monitoring that intersection left but she continued to follow the car in front of her through the intersection. Weeks later, a ticket from the red-light camera at that intersection made it to Rittenberg’s home and she attempted to dispute it with the City’s Public Work’s Department.

“They said all I needed was a letter from the funeral director saying there was such a procession,” said Rittenberg.

She contacted the Funeral Director Billy Henry with Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp Funeral Home.”I felt quite sure that if I verified that she actually attended the funeral — was part of the procession, and there were police escorts — they would waive her fine,” Henry said.

However, after the Public Work’s Department reviewed the letter and the traffic tape, Rittenberg was still considered at fault.

Public Work’s Director Robert Mendoza said there are quirks in the traffic camera system, and this is one of them.

Mendoza said under a city law, once an officer stops monitoring traffic at a given intersection for any event, the traffic laws go back into effect.

Mendoza said this is a law he discovered while reviewing Rittenberg’s case.”If you’re going to give people tickets during the middle of a funeral procession, then we’re going to have to have some serious guidelines as to what the responsibility of the motorcycle escort is, what the responsibility of the funeral director is, and what the responsibility of the driver is,” Henry said.

Mendoza agrees and said the law should be reviewed.In Orleans Parish, there is no law requiring escorts for funeral processions.

Mendoza said the city should review that clause, along with how well motorcycle escorts presently monitor the traffic situations.

Mendoza said that more officers may be needed or better routes considered.