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Tickets tossed: speeders in Winnipeg construction zone get a lucky break

WINNIPEG - An administrative error is being blamed for a million-dollar mistake in Winnipeg's photo-radar program that will see city police and the Manitoba government refund or cancel 2,574 speeding tickets.

A computer used to process tickets issued between June 27 and July 1 on a stretch of Kenaston Boulevard had not been updated to reflect recent changes to the province's speeding law, police said Wednesday.

As a result, an outdated section of the province's Highway Traffic Act was cited.

"In the interest of fairness to motorists, and transparency for all involved, (police) recommended tickets be full refunded due to the improper wording," Det. Sgt. Natalie Aitken said. Police could have tried to reissue the tickets, but opted not to, she added.

The difference between the old wording and new is minor. Before the change, tickets would cite Section 95 (1) — Speeding. The law now has a new section specifically for speeding in a construction zone — Section 95 (1) (b.1). Fines have been increased as well.

The refunded and cancelled tickets are worth roughly $1 million, Aitken said. Only one photo-radar location had the glitch.

Until this year, motorists going through Manitoba construction zones were required to slow down only in areas where workers were present. The push to toughen the law was prompted in large part by the Oct. 18, 2010, death of Brittany Murray, a flag operator who was struck by a driver who had not reduced his speed. Now, drivers must slow down in all construction zones, regardless of whether workers are present.

Aitken said motorists aren't getting the message. The 2,574 speeding tickets were issued over five days on a road where the speed limit dropped from 80 kilometres an hour to 60 km/h in the construction zone.

"That's an extremely large number at one particular location," she said of the tickets.

"The speeds that you see people travelling at are dangerous."

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