Family Alleges Court Double Dips on Red Light Citations

A family learns of a frustrating process to get reimbursed after being billed twice for a red light violation.

One Southern California family alleges the Los Angeles Superior Court is double dipping after they say they were billed twice for a single red-light violation.

When a red light citation is issued it's the owner of the car who gets billed. But the owner isn't always the driver or violator. And that's where the confusion, and in this case, the double billing begins.

"Not being able to get a clear-cut answer is very frustrating," said Stephen Kelly, a Valencia resident.

The source of Kelly's frustration is the Metro branch of Superior Court, Los Angeles County's traffic court.

His wife, Susan, was cited as a red light violator last June.

"It's not my wife driving," he said. "It's my mother in law."

The Kellys' bank statements show they paid the fine immediately online, $500. They also followed instructions on the back of the ticket.

"It said that, 'if you're not the driver of this vehicle for this ticket then state who that is,' and we filled out all the information."

The driver was 79-year-old Young Kim, Kelly's mother in law. Nearly 3 months after paying the ticket Kim received a letter from the court stating "as a result of your failure to appear … a civil assessment of $300 was added.

"The court will refer this citation to a collection agency."

"I just thought, 'Whoa, wait a minute this has all been paid months ago,'" Kelly said.

The money has not been refunded. And yet his mother in law has been charged $790 and it's gone to collections.

A spokesperson for the Superior Court acknowledges Susan Kelly's ticket was dismissed, her driving record restored, but that the refund process is slow.

In response to the NBC4 I-Team's questions, the court is re-instating the original citation for Kim, ending the collections process and waiving the $300 fee for failure to appear.

"Just a lot of stress and heartache," Kelly said.

Kim has until Dec. 3 to pay the $490 fine. What has Kelly seeing red now is the process.

Kelly wonders how many others may have paid twice and didn't catch it when a court issued two red light citations for a single violation.

The courts are refunding $500 to the Kellys, and they've waived $300 in late fees for Kim.

Two things led to double billing -- the Kellys paid the fine but acknowledged Susan Kelly wasn't the driver which led to the second ticket being issued.

If you get a red light ticket and you weren't the driver, acknowledge that on the citation, send it in but don't pay it. It's the courts responsibility to figure out who to charge.

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