There’s been much discussion online and in legal communities about red light speeding camera tickets and whether or not they’re constitutional. Sometimes, opinion is presented as fact. Here are the facts about California’s laws regarding these types of tickets.

What Does California’s Constitution Say About Speeding Tickets Triggered by Red Light Cameras?

As of 2014, California’s constitution says that red light camera tickets are constitutional and that the images taken by those cameras can legally be considered evidence in court as proof of traffic violations.

That doesn’t mean it’s a universally supported idea. Some supporters say they are helpful to law enforcement working to make the streets safer. Still, others have concerns about law enforcement being automated this way and whether or not people should be fined when caught by a camera as opposed to a human officer.

Regardless of whether or not people like the idea, studies have shown they’re effective, with one study conducted in Oxnard over several months finding that red light violations were reduced by 42% once the cameras went into operation.

What Is the Fine for a Red Light Ticket in California?

The actual amount will vary depending on the circumstance and whether or not the driver was a repeat offender. In general, here are some baseline amounts that could be expected.

  • Rolling legal turn (when a driver makes a legal right turn but doesn’t fully stop at the red light): Fines start at $35.
  • Illegal red light turn (when the driver didn’t have the right of way or the intersection was marked no turn on red): Fines start at $35.
  • Running a stop sign or red light: Fines start at $100.

These infractions could also add 1 point to the driver’s license.

Again, these are just the starting points for fines. The fines can increase substantially for drivers who are found guilty of reckless driving, and 2 additional license points may be assigned. That could, in turn, cause a steep increase in auto insurance premiums. A driver who receives a minimum of 4 points within a year could be designated as a negligent driver by the state and have their license suspended or revoked. There’s a possibility the court may allow the driver to avoid the license suspension by completing a traffic school course.

Is There Any Way to Fight Red Light Speeding Camera Tickets?

People often think that because there’s video evidence, there’s no way to work against these fines and consequences. But that’s far from the truth, and that’s why it’s worth consulting an experienced defense attorney.

These are possible tactics that could be used to dismiss the ticket or lower its consequences.

  • Some red light camera tickets come with penalties; they may be more of a warning and don’t require additional action on the driver’s part.
  • The law states that the driver can only face a citation if the camera has a clear, easily identifiable photo of the license plate and the car’s driver. The photo’s clarity can be affected by anything from bad weather to burned-out streetlights to problems with the camera itself. The identity of the driver should be shown beyond a reasonable doubt for the ticket to stay.
  • The violation may be negotiable to lower the fine or reduce or remove the points from your record (but it’s best to work with professionals for this tactic).
  • Ask for the driving school option. If the court agrees, the driver still has to pay the associated fine as well as any court fees and driving school costs, but there will be no points issued against the driving record.
  • Ask for evidence that the camera was in working order. The ticket may be invalid if the camera isn’t in proper working order.

What If the Person Driving the Car Wasn’t the Owner of the Vehicle?

Technically, the person driving is responsible for the infraction, not the vehicle’s owner. That’s one of the reasons that the law states that the driver must be clearly identifiable in the camera video or photo. However, the ticket will be sent to the address listed on the license plate.

The vehicle’s owner has the right to contest that ticket because they weren’t driving. But they’ll need to provide proof of their whereabouts or proof of the other person who was driving the car.

How Are the Red Light Cameras Operated?

In California, most red light cameras aren’t operated by the communities they’re used in. Instead, third parties handle the installation and maintenance. However, those third-party operators earn money from each ticket issued. Not much of the actual ticket goes to the city or community where the camera is located.

Sensors trigger the cameras themselves. The sensors activate when the light turns red, and if the driver goes over the sensor then, the camera is activated. The driver can usually tell if they’ve activated the red light camera because the cameras will flash when the driver violates the red light. When activated, the cameras collect the license plate and the image of the driver.

What Should I Do if I Got a Camera Ticket in California?

Call the SoCal Law Network at 949-305-7995 to set up a free consultation. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable defense attorneys can walk you through your situation and what the possible outcomes are. We know how frustrating this is for you, and we can help you determine what your possible defenses could be.