NEW ORLEANS - When an Eyewitness News viewer got a ticket from one of the traffic cameras in Orleans Parish that he felt was unfair, he sent an e-mail message to our newsroom.
That's because the ticket was issued for a school zone violation for a day when schools were recently closed.
There is help for those in his situation.
January 29 and 30, the city was practically shut down from the freeze and rain. The roads were slippery. The schools were all closed. That's when A.C. Wahlen, a captain in the Jefferson Parish Fire Department came to help a friend with supplies during the cold weather. And that's when the traffic camera flashed. On Canal Boulevard just before Harrison Avenue, he got a ticket for speeding in a school zone.
"I saw the flashing sign and everything and it's like, all schools are closed and I don't have to worry about it," A.C. Wahlen remembers thinking.
He was going 28 mph, technically seven miles slower than the 35 mph speed limit when it's not school zone time. He says he was going slower because the roads were wet and icy.
The city says it did not issue citations in a school zone on those dates, only for those that were not in a school zone. But Wahlen showed us proof that he got one.
"I was going to try and fight it when I saw that the administration is handled through Arizona and I know that the people in Arizona don't know that New Orleans froze that day. It's like, 'Yeah, yeah,' I was looking into what I needed to do to make an appointment to get a hearing," he explained.
In a statement the city states that during the freeze, speeding tickets were given with the exception of those in a school zone. And people who got one can contact the hearing center. A.C.'s ticket is for $75. It will be $79 if you add in the so called convenience fee for paying online. He planned on contesting, but was worried it wouldn't matter.
"I figured I'd wind up paying it in the end, but I wanted, it's like, 'How can you charge me for this if the schools are closed?'" Whalen said.
Now he knows it's one bill he does not plan to pay.
Full statement from the city: "During the winter weather from January 29-30, 2014, the city issued citations for speed limit violations with the exception of those recorded by traffic safety cameras in school zones. If a vehicle owner believes a citation for a school zone violation was issued in error, they should contact the hearing center at (504) 658-8250 during normal business hours."
All other tickets on those days have to be paid.