Red light cameras are Los Angeles’ most frustrating traffic control device. A single neighborhood may have dozens of cameras, and each one can issue thousands of tickets per year. Many drivers get a ticket in the mail even if the light was yellow or they made a legal right turn on red—and each ticket can be $400 or more. If you have been issued a red light camera citation, you can fight it. You need to talk to a good criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles.
The Simmrin Law Group understands red light camera cases. We work to help drivers who have been accused of breaking the law, and we do not believe traffic cameras are fair or accurate. Let us give you a free consultation to help you fight your ticket. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-896-2723 and get your free consultation today.
How do red light cameras work?
Red light cameras are typically installed at high-traffic intersections, or in places with specific safety hazards such as railroad crossings. They actually include a set of sensors as well as the cameras themselves. If your car crosses the sensor while the light is red, the camera snaps a picture that shows your license plate. Ideally, the camera captures you at the exact second you are supposedly breaking the law, but it cannot always capture other factors. Then you are mailed a ticket.
This system has several weaknesses, however:
- The sensors are not always timed perfectly and may snap you “breaking the law” when the light was actually yellow, not red.
- Cameras are notorious for ticketing people who make a legal right turn on red.
- Cameras may not capture other factors at play. For example, one case in 2017 involved a man who crossed the Metro Blue Line and was issued a camera ticket for not stopping—even though the light at that particular crossing remains green when the train warning first comes on, and he crossed legally on a green light.
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Are red light cameras legal in Los Angeles? Are they Constitutional?
Unfortunately, yes, they are legal.
Red light cameras have faced numerous court challenges. Courts in other parts of the country have taken many approaches to the issue, but in Los Angeles, they have been upheld as a valid way to enforce traffic laws. This eventually went to the California Supreme Court which decided that photos from the cameras may not be the same as an officer giving you a ticket in person, but they at least count as “evidence.” This ruling means that a traffic judge can simply look at the photo from the camera, uphold the ticket, and force you to pay it. It’s legal.
Additionally, the courts have not interpreted red light cameras as being unconstitutional at this time.
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How do I know where red light cameras are located?
Intersections with traffic cameras are clearly marked, but it’s easy to miss these signs while you’re focused on driving. This means that many drivers don’t even realize there are cameras present until it’s too late.
Legally, the ticket counts even if you did not notice the signs about the cameras. However, if you want to know where cameras are located in your neighborhood, this site attempts to mark them all on an interactive map.
What if someone was driving, but I was the one who got the ticket?
If you are the registered owner of the vehicle in the photo, you will automatically be the one who receives the ticket. However, California law says that the person who was driving the car is the one liable for the ticket. That means you do not have to pay it—although you do need to show up in court and take care of it.
In court, when you state that you were not the driver, the judge will ask you to identify the driver of your car as shown in the photo. Typically this will be a family member or friend, or someone else you allowed to drive your car. However, you are not required to identify them. You can simply decline to answer.
If you do so, rather than sending that person a ticket, the judge will generally dismiss the ticket.
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Is it true I can ignore the ticket from a red light camera?
No. What is true is that, since 2014, ignoring a ticket from a camera has been treated differently than ignoring one from a live officer. With a normal ticket, issued by a police officer, if you fail to respond to it—either by paying it or showing up on your court date to contest it—you would get a “failure to appear.” This is a formal notice with legal consequences, and it can cause the DMV to put a hold on your license.
Since a 2014 court ruling, however, traffic light cameras have been treated differently. Drivers were no longer issued a failure to appear for ignoring camera tickets, at least not in Los Angeles. However, future court decisions could change that policy—in other words, don’t count on it working for you. Plus, neighboring areas around L.A. do not use the same rules.
But a “failure to appear” isn’t the only penalty—and red light camera tickets are not voluntary. Ignoring the red light camera ticket gets you an extra $300 fine. Depending on the area, this could put you up to nearly $1,000 in fines for something you could have gotten dismissed. And the courts will force you to pay it the next time you have to deal with a regular traffic ticket.
There are better ways to deal with a red light ticket than ignoring it. it’s smarter to show up and fight it from the start, and easier to have a lawyer handle the whole thing for you.
Talk to a Los Angeles Red Light Camera Lawyer for Free
You don’t have to go spend a whole day in traffic court just to get your red light ticket dismissed. Let a lawyer handle it who knows how to do it right—while you stay home. Let the Simmrin Law Group give you a FREE consultation and start fighting your case. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-896-2723 and get your free consultation today.