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 Do 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.
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.
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 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.
Steps for Getting Out of a Traffic Camera Ticket
To get out of a traffic camera ticket, do the following:
i. Examine the ticket
ii. Review the images
iii. Plead Not Guilty
iv. Find out what law is applicable to you
v. Challenge the claims of your prosecutor
vi. Weigh your defense options
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.
Weigh Your Defense Options
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?
A traffic camera light offender has to pay for a ticket unless the person is able to get a court to dismiss it. In some states, if an offender refuses to pay the fine, it will pile up and sent to collection agencies, which can affect their credibility record.
In some states, even after paying the fine, the traffic offenses remain on the offender’s records. So try not to violate traffic laws if the means is available.
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.
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.
What to Do if You are Issued a Traffic Camera Ticket?
If issued a traffic camera ticket, do the following:
i. Pay the stipulated fine
ii. Ask for a mitigation hearing
iii. Contest the ticket in court
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 some states, 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.
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.
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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.
How to Get Out of Traffic Camera Ticket – Related FAQs
Is it Worth Fighting a Red Light Camera Ticket?
Fighting a red light ticket may or may not be worth it. In cases of emergency, violating a red light ticket will be worth it. In other less urgent cases, it is advisable to wait for the green light to pop up.
Ordinarily, a red light ticket will not stain the driving record of a driver, neither will it affect insurance rates since the sanction fees are small. The amounts, however, vary from state to state, but for most cases, the sanction fee is usually $100 or lesser. In the end, the driver gets to decide whether or not to violate the ticket.
What Happens if You Run a Red Light with No Camera?
Usually, there are no consequences for violating red lights with no cameras. Since there are no cameras stationed atop the red light, then chances are no pictures were taken. However, some cities have it that not all traffic light points are photo enforced. So, there is usually a sign that states that point between intersections and main entrances are photo applied.
In this case, if signs were placed at entrances to the city, then the possibility is there are red-light cameras placed at intersections in the city.
How Long Do You Have to Wait at a Red Light if it Doesn’t Change?
Usually, the time needed to wait for a red light to change when it does not is fifteen minutes or more, or till it is convenient to proceed. However, some areas may have a minimum hold-up time. Since some traffic lights will not change because they are malfunctioning, police officers will hardly pull the car over.
However, the light sensors may be unstable sometimes, so the waiting time will be around five minutes. All in all, survey the area and ensure it is safe to proceed before running a faulty signal.
Why Do Traffic Lights Skip?
Traffic lights skip when a car is not near enough to the termination line, the sensors are broken or when it is a motorcycle. If a vehicle is not close enough to the termination point and the motion sensors are broken, the traffic lights will skip. Also, since bikes are manufactured with fewer metals, they will have to stop at a loop detector’s edge. If they are not positioned rightly, the cameras will miss them.
Finally, some traffic lights are made to skip by design. Although this is rare, some traffic lights have multiple skips and calculated skips in one cycle.
What if You Accidentally Go Through a Red Light?
If a red light is violated, and there are no cameras or police officers around, then there is no penalty for it. However, if it appears that there may be a red light camera, then the driver would have to stop, survey the area and continue on the journey once it is safe to proceed.
Eventually, if the driver is not pulled over by the police and receives no sanction ticket, then nothing is to be done. Notwithstanding, if the ticket is received, the driver has no option than to pay the fine.
What Does a Green Arrow Appearing with a Red Traffic Light Mean?
A green arrow appearing with a red traffic light means that all other traffic with exception to that managed by the green arrow should stop. The green arrow is usually accompanied by a red light that warns drivers to stop unless they are going in the indicated direction.
Similarly, a red arrow accompanied by a green light indicates that all other traffic except that managed by the red arrow should proceed. The green light clarifies the other drivers that they are free to move for the time being.
Can You Ignore a Red Light Camera Ticket in Illinois?
A red light ticket cannot be ignored in the city of Illinois. If a camera ticket is sent to the mail and is left unattended to, the sanction fee doubles. Each city has its time elapse before a ticket doubles. So, it is advisable to check the ticket to ascertain the time it doubles.
Once the fine increases, they can no longer be ignored. Usually, when there are unpaid tickets, the offender’s vehicle will be seized, and the driver’s license suspended. Immediately the licensed is suspended, the driver no longer has permission to drive.