Across the country, more and more intersections are being equipped with photosensors that watch day and night for drivers who ignore traffic signals. These “red light cameras” snap a picture of the offender’s license plate and a citation is mailed to them. If you have found yourself in receipt of such a ticket, it’s something that you can’t ignore.
The number of communities that employ red light cameras is growing rapidly. Opinion concerning their popularity is divided. Some believe they are being installed with an eye to public safety while others think it is simply an easy means for a municipality to generate revenue. While many motorists are engaged in debating these tickets every day, there is one notable case in Oregon that has inflated to a first amendment issue.
How Do They Work?
The theory behind a red light camera system is simple. The cameras are programmed to snap a picture as the traffic light changes from yellow to red. Images captured of cars still in the intersection are then reviewed to determine if a violation has occurred. In the event of a violation, a citation is issued.
Once the ticket has been issued, the driver is faced with the same options available to drivers who have received their ticket in the “usual style.” The driver will have a prescribed amount of time to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest.
A not guilty plea will require the setting of a court date to attempt to prove innocence. It should be noted that it ‘s hard to refute photo evidence so drivers should be confident that the ticket was indeed written by mistake or that there was an excellent reason for the violation. If the driver’s not guilty plea is overturned, payment of the fine must be made. Depending on the judge, the final penalty paid may ultimately be more or less than the original stated amount.
Should You Pay?
It is up to the individual driver to make the call whether or not to pay a photo fine. States vary in their policies and procedures concerning nonpayment so a driver would do well to do a little homework. Otherwise, nonpayment could result in higher fines or even arrest. To prevent this possibility, it may be wise to seek the advice of an attorney.
Should a driver decide to pay, the fine can usually be remitted by mail but may require a trip to a courthouse or regional DMV office. It should be noted that a red light camera violation is a civil and not criminal matter, so such a conviction will not add points to a driver’s record.
If you wind up with one of these unpleasant surprises in your mailbox, don’t throw it out with the junk mail. Follow the guidelines above to deal with it in the manner you find most appropriate to your circumstance. And remember, the best way to guard against future surprises like this one is never to forget that a yellow light means “slow down” and not “go faster.”
If you have been ticketed in person and not by mail, consider the possibility of dismissing that ticket with a defensive driving course from ApprovedCourse.com.