Many of us have opened our mail, only to find a citation from a municipality citing us for a red light violation captured on camera. The citation generally includes photo(s) of your vehicle and license plate, alongside a fine you are asked to pay. These fines are not cheap.
Before calling a traffic lawyer, arming yourself with useful information can help you avoid paying the fine.
DISCLAIMER: Please note these tips are first and foremost for informational purposes and are not meant and cannot replace professional help of an experienced traffic lawyer. However, many tickets can be dismissed with proper help.
How Does a Red Light Camera Work?
When a car enters the intersection after the traffic light turns red, intersection cameras play witnesses when an officer is present. The definition for the word “after” depends on your state/city jurisdiction and in many places it is one third of a second. With that said, entering the intersection at the same moment of time when the light turns red should NOT result in red light citation.
Ask to see the actual footage of your infraction to see if any portion of your car was actually in the intersection. An inch of bumper counts.
Get a Maintenance Report
Because these cameras are mechanical devices, you never know if they are working properly. One strategy is to request documents showing the current maintenance for the camera that captured your alleged violation. Red light camera equipment is a subject of strict regulations, requiring periodic tests and calibrations. Defendants have the right to request the last calibration report. If the calibration is not up to date, the citation is up for dismissal.
It Wasn’t Me
What if you weren’t driving your car at the time of the alleged infraction? Some local traffic authorities might exercise excessive pressure trying to force you to reveal the identity of the person who was driving your car during a red light violation. Hold your ground, you are not, by law, required to answer.
If they insist too much, making you uncomfortable or they try to intimidate you in any form – tell them that you want to exercise your constitutional right to remain silent. Never forget that you are innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.
HOW WAS I SUPPOSE TO KNOW?
Go back and look for a “Photo Enforced” warning sign, generally posted 300 feet before the intersection. If that sign was missing, the chances of a citation dismissal are high. But of course the final decision remains at the discretion of judge.
Was There Time to Stop?
If the duration of the yellow(amber) light is too short it can lead to premature start of the red light. Request a test to ascertain that this intersection has a proper length of time during the yellow light phase.
Contradictions of the Traffic Camera
It is a constitutional right to face one’s accuser. That is not possible with a mechanical device. That, alone, is a possible legal argument. Strangely enough, red light camera violations are not considered a moving violation, they do not assess points on your driver’s license.
But if the car is actually moving in the intersection, how can it not be a moving violation? This obvious contradiction is another legal point to argue to avoid paying your fine.
Was the weather bad at the time of your alleged infraction? Any adverse weather conditions are an acceptable excuse for running a red light.
The same applies to the tailgating scenarios. When you are forced to keep driving on the red light because the car behind you is dangerously close, is speeding or tailgating thus creating a hazard.
In these cases, running a red light understandably promotes public safety rather than violates it.
Let us Help!
Never underestimate the importance of a professional traffic law attorney in your defense. There are lots of ways to fight a red light camera ticket, so, help yourself and defeat the ticket!