The Saskatchewan government has launched a number of initiatives to crack down on construction zone speeders, including photo radar. (RCMP)

As Saskatchewan gets ready to expand photo radar, some of the tickets previously issued for speeding in construction zones have been thrown out by the courts.

Earlier this month, five cases from 2013 went to provincial court in Pierceland in the province's northwest — and a judge decided the vehicle owners were not guilty in all five.

It's illegal to drive faster than 60 kilometres per hour when passing highway workers or occupied highway equipment within a work zone.

After a young flag worker was struck and killed by a vehicle on the highway two years ago, the province stepped up enforcement and boosted fines.

It also introduced photo radar to so-called "orange zones" where road crews are at work.

Since then, the province has been snapping photos of suspected speeding vehicles and sending tickets to the registered owners.

Many motorists simply pay the fines, but others are challenging them.

In the five cases that went to court April 17, dealing with alleged speeders on Highway 55 near Peerless, Sask., the defendants had similar stories:

  • a man said he's not sure the SUV pictured in the blurry photo radar evidence was his. 
  • a woman whose car was ticketed for going 71 in the 60 zone said the Crown's photos and other documents do not prove her car was speeding.
  • a man whose vehicle was clocked going 84 kilometres per hour said there weren't any workers or equipment in the area when the picture was taken.
  • a man said he was approaching a construction zone, but made a u-turn before he got to the flag person. He got a photo radar ticket for going 77 km/h.
  • a vehicle owned by provincially owned TransGas was clocked in a construction zone going 74 km/h, but the driver said he didn't pass any workers or equipment when the picture was taken.

Judge Miguel Martinez said the defendants were credible witnesses. He also said the simple fact a vehicle is speeding in a construction zone is not sufficient to convict.

"The offence is driving faster than 60 kilometres per hour when passing [judge's emphasis] highway workers (whether or not they are in a marked construction zone) or when passing occupied highway equipment in a marked construction area, or when passing highway equipment actually on the highway and with its warning lights operating," Martinez said in a written decision on the TransGas case.

"None of the Crown's documents prove that the TransGas vehicle did anything of the kind."

The Saskatchewan government is set to expand photo radar to three sites this summer: the Ring Road in Regina, Circle Drive in Saskatoon, and a section of the Trans-Canada Highway at Moose Jaw.