Red Light Ticket: Making Your Case in Court

Aside from other commonly used traffic violation defenses, red light ticket defenses also provide a driver significant other options for contesting their traffic violation citation. The following article outlines how drivers can obtain a dismissal of their red light camera based citation.

Hearsay and Red Light Camera Citations

In order to obtain conviction in almost every red light citation case involving a traffic camera, law enforcement and the courthouse are required to provide a picture or video of the actual alleged violation into the court. Without this evidence, the case is usually immediately dismissed. Even with the presence of a tape, video, or photograph, a driver can state that any testimony made by a law enforcement officer, upon viewing a red light camera video, is simply hearsay, as the officer did not actually witness anything. Rather, the officer is relying on a secondary source to make statements. The simple fact of the matter is that an image presented provides no context or any other information to convict a driver, and in turn, a law enforcement officer cannot attest to anything otherwise, as he or she was not present at the time of the alleged incident.

State Laws Concerning Traffic Cameras and Citations Widely Vary

As a driver facing a red light camera citation, knowing the applicable state laws concerning traffic cameras are essential. At this point, the help of legal counsel can prove instrumental in defending a red light camera citation. Some commonly used defenses, which can vary based on applicable state laws, include:

  • Failure of law enforcement to maintain appropriate chain of evidence when retrieving photos from a red light camera, typically using private companies or personnel (less likely today, as many red light camera images are emitted electronically and don't require retrieval of a hard copy)
  • The traffic signal and camera itself can come under scrutiny as set procedures and timing standards are in place, which vary by state law, which if violated can result in dismissal of the citation
  • Contest that the driver shown in the photograph is not you. Seems simple enough, however, law enforcement has been known to use rather dubious tactics that force drivers to incriminate themselves concerning this matter.

Getting Legal Help with Red Light Camera Tickets

In essence, a red light camera citation is relatively easily contested in the courts, should a driver seek the insight and representation of a lawyer. In most cases, a lawyer with experience in handling traffic violations cases can obtain dismissal of a red light camera citation for most drivers, depending on the facts surrounding their citation.