Red light cameras are becoming more common than ever across the United States, even as drivers are learning they are much easier to fight than traffic tickets received during a traffic stop. Here are 7 facts you should understand about a ticket you receive from a camera.
#1. The driver is usually liable for the ticket, not the vehicle owner
In most states that allow red light cameras, it’s the driver of the vehicle, not the car owner, who is liable for paying the ticket. If you receive a citation in the mail and you weren’t driving, you can fill out an affidavit stating that you were not driving when the violation occurred.
#2. Red light cameras only capture specific traffic violations
Red light cameras trigger automatically to capture specific traffic violations. The most commonly captured traffic citations include stopping in a crosswalk, speeding, and running a red light. Red light violations are the most common, but a growing number of states are using speed camera programs.
#3. Not all states use automatic traffic cameras
Only about half of states currently use red light and/or speed cameras, and those that do allow them do not necessarily allow the cameras statewide. In some states, cameras may only be used in specific jurisdictions. In California, red light cameras are allowed statewide by law, but there are no state laws or city ordinances for speed cameras. States such as Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, and Indiana do not have cameras in place, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
#4. In some places, red light tickets can be ignored
In some areas, most notably Los Angeles, red light tickets can essentially be ignored without consequences. While you are technically on the hook for the $300 ticket and a red flag will be attached to your name with that specific court, it will not affect your DMV record and the ticket will only come up if you are ever sent to the same court with an officer-issued traffic citation. Even then, the red light ticket will most likely be dismissed by the judge, according to LA Weekly.
#5. Some cities issue “snitch” tickets
Not all citations received in the mail are even real traffic citations. In some cities of Arizona, California, and other states, snitch tickets are issued that do not instruct the motorist to contact the court or contain any court contact information. In some states, these tickets are required to say, “Courtesy Notice: This is not a ticket.” While you do not need to respond to these tickets, law enforcement hopes you will as a real ticket will be issued if you admit who the driver was.
#6. There are several ways to fight a camera traffic ticket
If you want to contest a camera traffic citation, possible defenses may be stating the image does not clearly show it was you driving, the ticket was not delivered within the time frame required by law, or the ticket was missing information required by the state.
#7. Traffic camera appeals are usually successful
Finally, most motorists don’t realize that it’s usually easy to appeal a traffic camera citation, but few even bother. According to a review by the Des Moines Register, 83% of appealed traffic camera citations were dismissed in Council Bluffs while other cities saw dismissal rates of up to 50%.