It’s rare to meet someone who hasn’t received one of those dreaded notices in the mail: TRAFFIC CAMERA VIOLATION. Sure, there are instructions on how to pay the fine and put it behind you, but what if you weren’t driving your car at the time? Or maybe you’ve been following the local news and you aren’t even sure that the cameras are still legal?
Traffic cams present unique questions regarding how they are enforced, whether they actually make roadways safer, and how they impact drivers. Here’s what you need to know if you’ve received a traffic camera ticket.
What traffic cameras are used for?
The basic premise behind traffic enforcement cameras is that they make intersections safer by deterring violations because drivers know the area is monitored by cameras. Throughout the country, these safety cams are used to document red light running and speeding violations. Although there is some debate about whether the photo enforced cameras actually improve safety, it’s clear that traffic cams are here to stay.
How do red light traffic cameras work?
Although cameras systems vary depending on the manufacturer and how a city chooses to use them, at most red light camera locations the cam is only triggered when a vehicle enters an intersection after the light has already turned red. The camera will take a picture of the license plate and a red light camera ticket is mailed to the vehicle’s registered owner.
Are speed cameras legal?
Like most legal questions, the answer to this is, “It depends.” In states that allow speed cams, the cameras can still be challenged for many reasons, including the arguing that the monitoring system is illegal, or the speed camera locations did not have proper warning signs.
However, in states that allow speeding cameras they will be enforced. As many drivers who recently received New Orleans traffic tickets learned, sometimes the maximum speed allowed in the photo enforced zones can change without notice, leaving drivers stuck with unexpected fines.
Not all states allow speed cams however. At least ten states, including Mississippi, have outlawed their use.
How are traffic cameras used against you?
Obviously, when you receive a traffic camera ticket you are facing a fine, as well as late fees if it isn’t paid on time. But what other implications do these photo enforced violations have on drivers?
Do traffic cameras go on your record?
Once again, the answer is “It depends.” Some states treat these violations like parking tickets while others handle them as a regular moving violation. Just across the South, every state is different in how it treats these tickets (see the graphic below).
Can I contest a traffic camera ticket?
Yes! Every red light camera violation or speeding ticket will include instructions on how to contest the ticket. Some drivers have been successful challenging these tickets on procedural grounds when the system is not set up properly, but this is not always a sure bet and in some cases can lead to a lengthy appeal.
The first thing you should do is log on to the camera’s online system and make sure that the photo is indeed of your vehicle. If the car pictured is yours but you can prove that someone else was driving with evidence of theft or because the other driver is willing to admit that fact, you can often contest the ticket on this basis.
How much are red light tickets?
This will depend on the jurisdiction where you received the violation. Often the ticket will include a penalty as well as administrative costs. For example, in New Orleans there is a $105 fee plus $30 administrative costs so the driver will pay $135 for the violation.
Do you have to pay camera speeding tickets?
Unless you win a challenge to the ticket, yes. In most jurisdictions, these unpaid violations are turned over to a collection agency which could then affect your credit score.
Can you use traffic cameras to help you?
While some cameras only capture a few second surrounding the violation, with other systems law enforcement has 24 hour access to the cameras and some even maintain recordings. If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident or had your vehicle stolen, obtaining footage from these cameras can be useful in proving your case. A lawyer can help you navigate the process of obtaining discovery from law enforcement and traffic camera monitoring companies.
Have you or someone you love been injured in an accident?
If you were injured in an accident, contact us for a free case evaluation. We will work with you on a contingency-fee basis to gather this evidence and prove your case. You may be eligible to file a claim for medical costs, emotional distress and further damages. Fill out our free case evaluation form to see if you are eligible for a claim. An experienced accident attorney at Morris Bart will assist you in the evaluation process. Initial consultations are free. We have office locations throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. Call us at 1-800-537-8185 today.