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Red Light Photo Ticket

I recently received a citation for running a red light. The infraction was caught via camera. I was making a right turn on red, and if my memory serve me right (for a 54 year old that ain’t sayin’ much), I came to a full stop before proceeding. The photo shows me at the red light before the line looking in the direction of on-coming traffic and then another photo (with time) 1 minute later proceeding through the intersection. The question I have is- How do the cameras know if I stopped before proceeding through a red light? Oh, I should mention that there are no “No right Turn on Red” signs.

I think I’d fight this one. The argument could be made that you were there for almost two minutes (ex: 11:39:01 to 11:40:59), and if the two photos show you as not having moved very far over that time, how could you have possibly done it without stopping?

However, the argument could also be made that it was only 3 seconds, too.

If you’re sure you stopped, then go for it. I think I would. Nothing to lose but some time, if you don’t have a prior engagement and can make it to court.

I’d fight it too, as long as you are sure you came to a full and complete stop.

I detest these cameras, as they are a money grab by local governments and do not make driving safer. My guess is that they cause more rear-end accidents than they prevent.

How much is the fine? Your time is likely infinitely more valuable than that–do you really want to spend half a day in court?

In many jurisdictions, it is possible to have a private conversation with the municipal prosecutor, just prior to the court session. In fact, in a city near me, I understand that the court clerk actually goes into the hallway to ask who would like to speak with the prosecutor, prior to court.

The obvious purpose of these conferences is to bargain for reduced charges. In this case, I’m not sure what reduced charges might be possible, but if the evidence is as convincing as it sounds, a pre-court meeting with the prosecutor might result in the charges being dismissed. In a case like that, everyone wins, as it cuts down on wasted time for the courts and for those appearing before the judge.

So–it is entirely possible that you would not have to spend half a day in court.

I would just mail the ticket back with your explanation and see what happens…Many of these photo-ticket operations are run by private companies working under contract with the city, county or state and they don’t push it very hard…

What state did this happen? For example, if it’s MA, then you better fight it. It will stick with you for 6 years here. So my answer would depend on that bit of information…

The photo shows me at the red light before the line looking in the direction of on-coming traffic and then another photo (with time) 1 minute later proceeding through the intersection

If you turn right on red, then you normally don’t go THROUGH the intersection, you take an immediate right. The red light camera should be triggered by a car going through the intersection when the light is red versus an immediate right turn. If you go through on red, it doesn’t matter if you stopped or not.

We have a couple of strange intersections here where you proceed past the first available right to take the next one (a huge CF intersection of multiple roads) but the signs are explicit about how/when it’s to be done and there are no cameras.

Yeah, I think you have a case. I’m not saying they do not catch light jumpers which is a good thing, but primarily the people that make the money is the vendors. Private contractors should never be allowed to set up and manage these things. In Minneapolis they were all taken out because folks were not given the opportunity for their day in court and had to refund mucho dollars in fines. Other areas need the money more desperately and still use them. In Norway they are all over the place for speeders. See what the procedure is for contesting it though. You may need to appear in person.

Considering that most accidents occur at intersections controlled by traffic lights, its not an unreasonable assumption that someone ran a light. I like the cameras, in theory anyway.

I do not like that they are installed by privately owned, for profit companies. I do not like that the motivation to install these is often revenue collection and not safety. Also, it is a new technology and there are bound to be some bugs to be ironed out.

I think in your case, you have a case and would easily win in court. If at all possible, I think it would be your civic duty to fight this one so that there will be pressure to improve this much needed technology.

I know CA (Los Angeles) is thinking to do away with these camera’s and one reason is that many have fought the right turn tickets. The company who runs the cameras charges a lot of money to the city so the profit margin is not there. So I would give it a shot.

In Bellevue, WA the city takes VIDEO as support for the conviction. The prosecutor will show you the video before you go into court to fight your ticket. In my case group they had video of both stop sign violations and school zone violations. They expect/want you to ask for mitigation and they will reduce by about 40%. They also charge it as a ‘parking violation’ so people tend not to fight it.
I decided to fight the thing (school zone). I did not see lights that day and i drive that road 8 times a week! and am very aware of that zone.
I ask numerous questions of the expert witness police officer. I challenged whether they could prove the yellow warning lights were functioning (they couldn’t). I asked if their clock was set to GMT (they didn’t know what it was set to). My infraction was at 11:08am and they contend the school zone sanctions end at 11:10am. I ask if anything else could set off the system -(they didn’t know) I asked about maintenance and got inexact answers. I asked about system wide and model error rates and got anecdotal answers. The judge was not used to my breadth of questions. She got weary, and though I made 2 very compelling arguments (couldn’t prove warning lights on, and couldn’t prove time was accurate). I got convicted and paid the full violation. I also contended that if the speed limit in the zone is 20 MPH that they should write tickets at 21MPH and not 28 MPH.

I agree it is primarily a money grab, bolstered by a “keep us/kids safe” rationale.

The real question is this:

The intersection where you got the ticket at - Does it have a sign saying “No Right Turn on Red?”

If yes, then you shouldn’t have ever made that turn.

Are you doing it in a city that prohibits right turns on red, like NYC?

If the place you made the turn at doesn’t have any turn on red restrictions, then you should be able to get the ticket thrown out.


“If you turn right on red, then you normally don’t go THROUGH the intersection,”

Sorry, TwinTurbo, I disagree with your assertion. In order to turn right, you have to enter the intersection, at least with this particular intersection.

As far as I know, the laws (in every state I’ve been in), are “Right turn on red after stop”. This requires a full stop, and you aren’t legally allowed to roll through. So it all comes back to the times on the photos. If they show seconds, as well as minutes, then he may have a “leg to stand on” as the saying goes. If not, then it may just be a battle. But there’s no arresting officer to appear, either, so winning due to his failure to show is out.

And I have to agree with Whitey. If you enter it at all, then you’ve gone through it. It doesn’t matter if you skirt the corner or not.

Not only are cars turning right on red required to stop, they are required to stop behind the line, just like the cars that aren’t turning right. If you cross into the crosswalk before you make your stop, you have run the red light.

at least with this particular intersection.
Which particular intersection? I didn’t see where the actual intersection in question was referenced. It would be interesting to see.

I guess we’ll have to disagree on the sematics. In my mind going through is going all the way through (as in straight through), not entering and then turning right.

The actual intersection wasn’t referenced, but based on the fact that the OP was cited while turning right on red, we know there isn’t a special right turn lane with a yield sign.

How do you enter something, then leave it, without passing through it? According to your standards, the blue line is the only thing passing through this circle, right?

But there’s no arresting officer to appear, either, so winning due to his failure to show is out.

We have the right to question our accusers in court. That’s codified in the 6th amendment. That the State has chosen to set up a situation in which our accuser is incapable of answering questions, is not our problem.

…but does the US Constitution apply to traffic court? Not usually. The 6th Amendment applies to criminal court. Driving is still a privilege, not a right.

When the 6th Amendment was written, there were no cars, no roads, no driver’s licenses, etc.

There most certainly WERE roads. And stopping in a crosswalk is a different offense from running a red light