Maybe you turned right at a red light, stopped over the line at the intersection, or passed through just as the light turned red. If so, you may come to receive a hefty fine in the mail if you have been found in violation of a red light camera. Understanding how these devices work and how to dispute them may help you prevent a steep fine, higher insurance premiums, and other consequences on your driving record.
What is a Red Light Camera?
Not all states and counties have red-light cameras in use. According to a report by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in 2017, 63 Florida jurisdictions implement the use of these devices.
Red light cameras are a relatively new photo enforcement technology that is becoming increasingly prevalent in Florida intersections. These devices are used to automate the process of recording drivers committing a red light violation, serving as a major ally in prosecution. As a driver passes over a sensor in the intersection while the traffic signal is red, a camera is activated, taking pictures of the driver and their front license plate. After the violation is recorded, an enforcement program issues a citation, which is then mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. The red light camera can also capture up to 12 seconds of video as further evidence of the crime committed.
Due to the timeliness of these photos, many drivers are caught “red-handed” in an illegal act, like passing through an intersection while the signal is red. Though these may seem like indisputable pieces of evidence, there are still ways for drivers cited by these cameras to fight the tickets.
Who is Liable When a Red Light Camera Triggers?
While many states vary in who is held responsible when a red light camera captures a violation, in the state of Florida, the registered owner of the vehicle receives the bill. This means that if someone is borrowing your car and triggers a red light camera, you will likely be the one to receive the citation.
In some situations, like in the case of a recently-sold car under new ownership or a stolen vehicle, the citation issued can be dismissed with the submission of an affidavit. It is recommended that drivers seeking dismissal should consult a local attorney specializing in traffic tickets for proper guidance.
What types of violations do Red Light Cameras capture?
Red Light Cameras in the state of Florida capture a number of violations, many of which are accompanied by a citation in the mail issued to the owner of the car. Failing to make a complete stop when turning right at a red light, passing through an intersection while the light is red, or stopping in the middle of an intersection during a red light can all result in a Notice of Violation (essentially, a ticket in the mail). Legally, each of these violations will result in a citation for s, 316.075(1)(c)1., Fla.Stat., which mandates drivers to come to a complete stop before a red light. These violations are captured in both photo and video form by the red light camera.
It is important to note that not all photos that were taken result in a violation. For instance, breaking beyond the line at a red light may trigger a camera without a violation having occurred. Every image captured by a red light camera is eventually reviewed by a police officer, who will decide whether the driver was in violation of traffic laws.
Are Red Light Cameras Legal in Florida?
Over the years, there have been many debates over the legality of police departments utilizing red light cameras provided by third-party vendors. Florida’s House approved a statewide ban on these devices in 2017, however, soon after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that red light cameras are legal and may be used in the interest of public safety.
Since the ruling, some cities in Florida have chosen to end their use of Red Light Cameras, while others continue to use them. For instance, in Palm Beach County, only Boynton Beach is currently using these cameras.
For the most accurate information regarding the locations of red light cameras, drivers should check their city’s website. Most cities post the location of cameras, the fines associated with citations issued from the cameras, and the process of receiving and paying or disputing a citation.
While some cities in Florida have refused to reactivate their cameras since the ruling in 2017, they are within their rights to reactivate them at any time. Your best course of action at any traffic signal is to obey state laws and wait until the light turns green.
How Much Does a Red Light Camera Ticket Cost?
Costs can vary depending on the county, but the typical cost for a red light camera ticket in Florida is $158. This fee can rise to $262 if you fail to pay the ticket after the first mailed notification.
What should I do if I received a Ticket from a Red Light Camera in the mail?
If you receive a traffic ticket from a red light camera and do not choose to contest the citation, you must pay the fine listed on the ticket within 30 days of receiving it. If you do so, no points are added to your record. However, if you miss this deadline, not only will your fine increase, but you will also incur court costs and three points on your license.
Continuing to ignore the citation can result in the suspension of your license, even higher fines, and the fee of reinstating your driver’s license.
If you plan to contest the violation, your first step should be finding a local attorney that specializes in traffic tickets. An attorney can guide you through the legal red tape, ensure that all deadlines are met and all evidence is gathered and presented in the way that best represents your case.
A great way to increase your chances of reducing the fine or getting the charge dismissed entirely is to call the lawyers at The Ticket Clinic or hire us online. Since 1987, The Ticket Clinic has resolved over 3,000,000 traffic-related cases across the nation. Call 1-800-CITATION (1-800-248-2846) now for your free consultation!