Red Light Tickets: To Pay or Not to Pay?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Scott Weber
    A automotive camera is set to detect moving violations in the intersection during red lights.

    There is a lot of controversy over red-light photo enforcement tickets.

    Do the camera tickets make the roads safer or do they cause more rear-end collisions?

    Are rolling right hand turns as dangerous and egregious as running a red light?

    Do I have to pay my ticket?

    Turns out the answer to that last question is … well, it’s up to the driver.

    A red light ticket will cost you about $476 – but there is no effective way to enforce payment. The city is calling it “voluntary” in part because the enforcement is so weak. The LA Superior Court does not aggressively pursue payments because the red light camera tickets are issued to the owner of the car (based on the license plate) and that is not necessarily the person who was driving the car at the time of the violation.

    What does happen if you get a ticket – and go to court?

    • If you go to court – thereby acknowledging the ticket – and are found guilty you must pay. Failure to pay in this circumstance could result in additional penalties and a suspended license.

    What happens if you ignore the ticket – don’t go to court and don’t pay? 

    • Your ticket is entered into a traffic court database, and listed as “pending.” An employer running a background check would have access to this information.
    • A collections agency will mail you two notifications.
    • The DMV is not notified.
    • There is no adverse impact on your personal credit report.

    The LA City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to end the photo enforcement program. They join a number of cities in Southern California who are rejecting photo enforcement.

    The City of Orange voted against a plan to install these cameras on Tuesday night. Costa Mesa removed their cameras last summer and Anaheim voters overwhelmingly decided to ban red light cameras last November. Westminster City Council approved a ban earlier this month.

    At the hearing Wednesday, Councilman Bernard Parks stressed that the enforcement issue is related to photo enforced tickets only. If you were issued a red light citation by an officer you will want to pay attention to that ticket.

    At this point no refunds are planned for people who have paid these tickets over the years.