Thanks to photographic automated enforcement technologies, drivers can now get out of traffic camera tickets falsely imposed on them. These traffic cameras can also be called red-light cameras. They operate by capturing any vehicle that passes the field-of-view of its sensors when the traffic light is showing red.
We thought it wise to furnish you with extensive information on how to fight a red light camera ticket. When the driver and license plate of a vehicle is captured for a red light traffic offense, the law enforcement agency examines the images and then sends the registered driver a citation through a mail.
How Does Traffic Violation Tickets Work?
Traffic cameras help to deter drivers from disobeying traffic rules because they are aware there is an all-seeing eye watching them. These traffic cameras help to record traffic violations committed by drivers when they are on the road.
Meanwhile, some experts have posited that these traffic cameras do not really enhance road safety. Nonetheless, we know that traffic cameras will be here for a long time.
The operation of traffic camera systems differs from brand to brand. But the ultimate goal they try to achieve is improved road safety. In most traffic systems around the world, these cameras are triggered when the sensors detect that a vehicle is at an intersection when the traffic light is already showing red.
The traffic camera will take a snapshot of the license plate of the vehicle and send a traffic light ticket to the vehicle owner to take appropriate actions.
Getting Out of a Traffic Camera Ticket
If you find out that you have been notified by mail for speeding or other traffic offense, what you have to do differs from place to place. For instance, in Los Angeles, some persons may choose to ignore a traffic camera ticket, and there will be no consequences.
While in some other places, you have to fight your way out of a traffic camera ticket. There are traffic courts in the different states saddled with the responsibility of trying traffic offenders. Here’s how you can get your traffic ticket dismissed by a judge:
Examine the Ticket
The first thing you have to do when you receive a traffic camera ticket is to examine it. To do this, you have to check the time, location, and date on the ticket. You have to be sure that you were driving the day the ticket was issued because even though the vehicle belongs to you, you may not actually be the one that drove on that fateful day.
If the matter gets to court, the burden of proof falls on the prosecutor, who claims that you actually violated traffic lights. In the event that someone else was using your vehicle, you will not need to pay for the offense.
However, in some places like New York, vehicle owners rather than drivers are held responsible for traffic offenses. So ensure that you know the law that applies to the area where the ticket was issued. If you were the person driving, try to drive through memory lane and scribble down as many details as you can remember.
For instance, it could be that you made right turn when the traffic light was red, and the photo was taken. If that is the case, you can have the ticket charges dropped in no time.
Review the Images
When you receive a traffic camera ticket mail, ensure that you thoroughly go through the images to verify that the vehicle is actually yours. Also, if the image is blurry or not clear enough, you can have the ticket dismissed. Especially if the license plate is not visible enough, making it difficult to confirm that it is your vehicle.
Also, if your photograph does not clearly show you sitting on the driver’s seat, you can use that to your advantage in court. The prosecutor has to prove that you were actually the one driving, which will be a difficult task for him since the evidence is debatable.
You would be able to use such scenarios to your advantage if the ticket was issued in a location that requires the driver is held responsible and not the car owner. Also, if you can’t find an image in your citation, it’s your right to request it from the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Plead Not Guilty
In some places, you are able to plead your case online or by mail instead of going through the stress of appearing in court for “minor” offenses like traffic violations and over-speeding.
In matters of law, if you plead guilty, you cannot pursue the case any further. So if you want to dismiss your traffic camera ticket, you have to plead “Not Guilty.” This way, you won’t need to pay the fine. In essence, paying the stipulated fine is another way of you admitting your guilt.
In most jurisdictions, you have a maximum of one month to fight the traffic light ticket. Once you plead not guilty, you will be arraigned in court, which you must be present. This is known as a noticed hearing. In that appearance, you have the opportunity of demanding a formal hearing, which is also known as a trial.
Furthermore, if your request for a formal hearing is granted, you will request that the prosecution provide all the necessary documents they used in filing the citation. These documents should contain photographs, maintenance records of the traffic lights, traffic cameras, or speed tracking systems. If you notice that the equipment is not frequently maintained and monitored, their reliability and authenticity can be questioned.
Find Out What Law is Applicable to You
As we have mentioned earlier, traffic laws vary from place to place. So it will do you a world of good to research the traffic laws that apply to you. Apart from the traffic laws, some laws governing the land may help you in your defense.
For instance, in some states in the United States, you must put up traffic violation signs before you can penalize anyone for such offenses. So if the sign is not available or somewhat obscured, then you are leverage on that.
Furthermore, some states allow over-speeding in a few instances. Since the traffic cameras cannot figure out the reason for your over-speeding, you can think of a very compelling reason that will get you off the hook.
Challenge the Claims of Your Prosecutor
When it’s time for your prosecutor to make his argument against you, listen carefully and find loopholes in his claims. You can pen down what you want to say when it’s your turn to speak.
In Broward County, for instance,they consider traffic light camera evidence to be hearsay, which means that it’s not enough to prosecute you for an offense. So you have to question the admissibility of the images as hearsay evidence before a judge.
In addition, there are several exceptions to hearsay evidence, and some traffic courts exempt traffic light camera images from hearsay evidence. So you have to research and know what applies to you.
Also, if there is no traffic light expert or someone who repairs the traffic light cameras to corroborate the claims of the prosecutor, you can argue that the images are not real. Especially if the details of the images are not legible to the human eyes. Under such circumstances, no judge will admit the evidence.
The prosecutor has to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the traffic lights, cameras, and other connected systems are functioning properly before any images he gets from them can be valid evidence. The burden of proving you are the one driving and that all the traffic systems are working properly falls on the prosecutor.
Meanwhile, if the prosecutor succeeds in getting the traffic light camera photographs admitted as evidence, all hope is not lost. You can still raise some other defenses that will exonerate you. For example, you can argue that you acted the way you did to get out of harm’s way. In essence, you are admitting to the offense, but you did it for your safety.
Furthermore, in legal terms, the above scenerio is Out of Necessity Defense. If you are there is a drunk driver behind your vehicle or you are driving on an icy road, wisdom demands that you do what you have to do to avoid a possibly fatal accident. No judge will penalize you for that offense.
Another strategy that can help you get the dismiss the ticket charges is the Obstruction of View defense. For example, if a large vehicle obstructed your view of the traffic lights, it safe to say that you wouldn’t have violated the traffic law.
Finally, the defense strategy you can adopt is the Point of View defense. You can posit that the traffic officer did not access the scene properly, or you may even say he was at the wrong angle. In addition, the essence of these different forms of defense is to argue your case convincingly for it to be dismissed by the judge.
Video: How to Dismiss Red Light Camera Tickets
This video tells you how to get red light camera tickets dismissed from a legal standpoint. Check it out…
Do you Have to Pay a Traffic Camera Ticket?
The first time you received a traffic violation ticket, you probably wondered if you really have to pay the fine. The bitter truth is, you have to pay unless you are able to get a court to dismiss it. In some states, if you receive to pay the fine, it will pile up and sent to collection agencies, which can affect your credibility record.
Since you now know that you have to pay the fine, the big question is, how much is the ticket? This also depends on the state that issue the ticket. You also need to pay for administrative and penalty charges. In New Orleans, for example, the penalty fee is about $105, while the administrative fee is $30. So you will pay $135 in total.
Meanwhile, in some states, even after paying the fine, the traffic offenses remain on your records. So try not to violate traffic laws even though you have the money to pay the fine.
In states like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, traffic violations like speeding and disobeying red traffic lights are not considered to be criminal in nature. So they do not reflect on the violator’s driving record. However, in Arkansas, these violations go on a driver’s record, even though there are some exemptions.
What Happens if You Don’t Pay a Camera Ticket?
The truth is, no one likes to receive a traffic camera ticket. However, when it happens, most people often ignore and hope it does not come up or procrastinate their payments.
The worst-case scenario is that they can arrest if you default in paying your fines, or you can even lose your driving license. This happens when the court reports you to the Secretary of State, and he will issue a warrant for the authorities to withhold your license forthwith.
As your unpaid tickets pile up, you will be notified to pay up or contest the legality of the tickets. If you are still unresponsive, the fine may be doubled, and in the end, your vehicle may be rendered immobile using wheel clamps, which is also referred to as Denver Boots. When this happens, you have only a day’s notice to pay the fine and the booting charges.
Once you have learned your lesson and you decide to pay the fine, you will have to wait for some days before your driver’s license will be released. Sometimes, you may even have your driver’s license revoked, and so you have to wait for at least a year before you can apply for another one.
Furthermore, if the authorities cancel your driver’s license, it means that you most likely filled incorrect information on your medical examination requirements.
Some of the traffic violations that can cause your driver’s license to be suspended, revoked, or even canceled include: reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, refusal to take a medical examination, responsible for an auto crash and disobedience to railway signals. If you are issued a traffic ticket, you have three options:
Pay the Stipulated Fine
Before you pay the fine, note that in some states like Illinois, such action is tantamount to an admission of guilt. Hence, you cannot go to court a judge to dismiss the ticket. In some cases, the authorities may cease your driver’s license, and the insurance premium on your vehicle may skyrocket.
Ask for a Mitigation Hearing
If you do not want to pay the fine, you can pray the court to grant you a mitigation hearing, which is more or less the same thing as pleading guilty. If you do this, you may have the fine reduced, with the option of paying in installments. You may also be need to carry out community service.
Contest the Ticket in Court
If you do not want to pay the fine or plead guilty, you can request that the court dismiss or reduce the charges. To do this, you will have to hire a lawyer if you cannot represent yourself in court.
In Illinois, the relevant agencies use points system to record your offenses. Hence, the more violations you commit, the more points you will have on your driving record. If you want to reduce the points or strike them out from your driving record, you will have to register for a traffic safety school.
Whether you violate traffic rules intentionally or not, the chances are high that you will receive a traffic camera ticket. When this happens, you will have three options: pay the fine, ask for a mitigation hearing, or contest the credibility of the ticket for a judge to dismiss it.