Can You Fight a Red Light Camera Ticket?

Today, more and more jurisdictions are adding some form of technology to help with traffic violations, including red light tickets. Twenty-three states currently have some form of red light cameras operating to catch those who run stoplights. The tickets issued are often called "red light camera tickets." Officials justify their installation by saying they deter drivers from violating traffic laws; however, many suspect that their real purpose is to increase income to cities and towns through fines. Either way, it is becoming more and more important to be aware of these technologies and how they work. Getting the appropriate advice from a traffic ticket attorney may be the only sure way to fight the charges levied because of one of these devices.

Verify Validity

The first step for someone who receives a red light ticket is to validate the ticket itself. Police are actually issuing "fake tickets" for their own purposes in many situations. Those tickets can be identified with careful observation:

  • They have not been filed with the court.
  • They do not carry the name and address of the court that issued the ticket.
  • There is no order on the ticket to contact the court "on or before" the expiration date of the ticket. In fact, many request that the suspect not contact the court.

The purpose for these tickets may be to get the respondent to identify the person in the picture, since the court cannot issue a real ticket without proper identification of the driver. Those who receive these tickets should immediately contact the court in the issuing jurisdiction and learn whether the ticket is valid. If not, it can be ignored. There are also "fake" tickets issued by some red light camera companies hoping to increase income from the devices and justify their existence. These also appear to be valid, but careful examination can reveal whether they are legitimate or not.

Validate the Process

Make sure that the ticket follows the legal procedures of the jurisdiction in which they were issued. There are a number of legal elements that must be observed:

  • Most jurisdictions have a statute of limitations within which the court must issue a ticket for a crime (often 15 days). If that ticket is mailed after that statute expires, it may be invalid and the driver may be able to have it dismissed.
  • Many also require that there be a sign within 300 yards of the camera informing citizens of its presence. If there is no sign or it is not visible, that may be grounds for dismissal.
  • If the time stamp indicates not enough time was allowed after the light turned red and before the suspect's car passed through the intersection, it may be argued that there was not enough time to stop safely and the judge may dismiss the case.
  • It can be disputed that the photograph of someone running a red light is hearsay evidence since there is no real witness to the crime. Some jurisdictions may accept that argument, while others may not, depending on the laws governing their use.

Getting Legal Help in Fighting a Red Light Ticket

While there are a number of questions about the validity of red light cameras to be used in law enforcement, defending against the charge is a detailed and complex process. In states where these devices are legal, traffic ticket attorneys are well versed in examining those elements and finding any that provide grounds for disputing the charge. They are also familiar with any fake tickets that may be issued by police departments in a jurisdiction. They can provide the help a defendant needs to fight this charge and clear their record from any red light tickets.

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