Red Light Camera Tickets in California
In recent years, law enforcement officials have taken further regulatory action by having red light cameras installed at numerous street intersections throughout California. These devices are intended to prevent drivers from running red lights in an attempt to decrease the number of deaths resulting from accidents caused by unsafe driving.
How Do You Get a Red Light Camera Ticket?
A red light camera is triggered if a vehicle passes over a sensor in the intersection when the light is red. The camera then takes photos of the driver and the vehicle’s license plate. If you are caught running a red light where a camera is present, you will see several flashes as you run through the intersection. A ticket is then mailed to you, if you are the registered owner of the vehicle. Within the mailed envelope is a copy of your citation, the dollar amount you must pay in fines and an attachment of the photo evidence taken of you at the time you ran the red light. There is also enclosed information to instruct you on how to challenge your traffic ticket. If you choose to fight your traffic ticket, you should hire an experienced traffic attorney to get you the best result possible in your case.
Who Is Liable to Pay the Ticket If the Driver Was Not the Registered Owner?
California law states that the driver cited for a traffic violation is liable for the ticket, not the vehicle’s owner. However, if your vehicle is captured running a red light by a red light camera, the ticket will be mailed to your address. Thus, if you receive a red light camera ticket in the mail but you were not the person driving, you should hire an attorney to challenge the ticket.
If a friend or family member was driving your car, the Judge might ask you to identify the person in the photograph. It is important to note that you are not legally required to provide this information to the Judge. A knowledgeable traffic attorney should notify you of this and should raise this argument in traffic court. Thus, your ticket may be dismissed and the police agency will then have the burden of identifying the driver by matching the red light camera photo to their driver’s license records. If the police agency is successful in identifying the driver, they will send the citation to said person via mail.
It Is Possible to Fight Your Red Light Camera Ticket
Many drivers think it is impossible to fight a red light camera ticket, especially when they see photo evidence of themselves running a red light. However, it may be possible to fight your traffic ticket and beat the charges against you with a skilled traffic attorney.
Possible Defenses to Beat a Red Light Camera Ticket
There are a number of defense strategies that your traffic attorney can raise on your behalf in order to beat your red light camera ticket:
- Was the Camera Machine working properly?
An officer must present evidence that the red light camera device was working properly on the day your ticket was issued. Your attorney may be able to find evidence that shows that the red light camera was not working properly on the day that your photo was taken.
- Are the images clear?
Your attorney may be able to challenge the photo’s clarity, arguing that the evidence is not convincing enough to convict you. For example, weather conditions or poor image quality may be enough to show that the identity of the person captured running the red light cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
- You ran the red light to avoid an accident or greater harm
Your attorney may also be able to argue that you ran the red light to avoid a serious accident or greater harm to yourself or another person. If this argument is convincing enough, the judge may find that you acted out of “necessity,” and may find you not guilty.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I argue that I was issued a red light camera ticket based on “hearsay”?
No. Hearsay is the legal term for testimony in a court proceeding where the witness does not have direct knowledge of the fact asserted, but knows it only from being told by someone out of court. In certain cases, hearsay is evidence that is inadmissible in court. However, Vehicle Code Section 21455.5(e) states: “The printed representation of computer generated information, video, or photographic images stored by an automated traffic enforcement system does not constitute an out-of-court hearsay statement by a declaration…” In other words, the machine is not a human, and thus cannot make a hearsay statement.
- Can photos taken of me be used against me in court, even if I was never cited by an officer?
Yes. The California Supreme Court in the case People v. Goldsmith (2014), stated that images taken from red light cameras are evidence of traffic violations and can be used as such in court.
- Are red light camera tickets constitutional?
This is arguable. Although red light camera tickets have been banned in 26 states, a recent California Supreme Court case has ruled red light traffic tickets are constitutional in California (People v. Goldsmith).
Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Fight Your Red Light Camera Ticket
You should not attempt to fight your traffic ticket alone. The process involved in fighting your traffic ticket is complex. An experienced traffic attorney will know the laws and procedures required to fight your case in court and can make several legal arguments against the photo evidence against you. In addition, your traffic attorney can argue on your behalf without you having to be present in court, saving you two trips to the courthouse and preventing you from taking time off from work or school.
Call the Traffic Attorneys of Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one has received a red light camera ticket, it is critical that you speak to an experienced traffic attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 40 years of experience defending persons issued red light camera tickets. Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich Southern California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.