Red Light Camera Ticket Defense Attorney
In the past, if there was no police officer in sight, running a red light went unseen and unpunished. Today, many intersections have traffic cameras installed. These work around the clock to determine when drivers run red lights and capture their information. Drivers then receive the traffic tickets in the mail.
If you received one or more of these tickets, you may wonder what effect they can have on your driving record and whether you can fight them in court. The answers to these questions depend on the jurisdiction. An experienced attorney can help you understand what your rights are in these situations.
What Are Traffic Cameras?
Traffic cameras are photo-capturing and video-recording devices installed for the primary purpose of monitoring traffic and recording violations. Drivers most often encounter these on freeways and highways and at major intersections.
Red light cameras are just one of the many types placed in these areas, and you only find them at intersections regulated by stoplights. Unlike many other types of traffic cameras, these generally record still shots rather than video footage.
Red-light cameras often remain dormant unless a vehicle passes the stop bar after a light turns red. Some lights are sophisticated enough not to be triggered by a car that has merely edged over the stop line. While most traffic cameras create low-resolution photos, many jurisdictions are currently upgrading their cameras to 4k resolution.
What Are Some Justifiable Reasons for Running a Red Light?
Sometimes, drivers do have legitimate or acceptable reasons for proceeding through an intersection when the lights turn red. There are very few that the court will consider, but your attorney can help you create a solid defense.
If the road was unexpectedly wet or icy, this could cause your car to slide through the intersection, even after you applied the brakes. Note that if the rain was falling heavily or the entire road is covered in snow or ice, the court may not accept this. The judge might argue you should have proceeded with caution, based on the weather conditions.
If you needed to rush yourself or a loved one to the hospital, the court may think twice about upholding a traffic ticket. However, not all health concerns qualify as medical emergencies. The health condition would need to pose a threat to a person’s life or you must have been convinced of this at the time.
Sometimes, people run red lights because they did not and could not see them. Here are some common situations when this might happen:
- The driver turns onto a street at the bottom of a hill and the light is hoisted up too high to see it.
- Creeper vines or tree branches grow out in front of the red light, blocking it from view.
- The red light begins to fade, making it difficult to see, especially during the daytime.
- The driver faced the sun and the glare made it difficult or impossible to see the red light.
No Warning Sign
This might surprise you, but in some jurisdictions, it is possible to get out of a red light traffic camera ticket if you did not receive a warning about the camera. In these jurisdictions, signs should be placed a few hundred feet ahead of intersections to let drivers know the road codes are “photo enforced.” Without these warning signs present, drivers may seek dismissal. However, this depends on the discretion of the judge.
To protect your privacy, some jurisdictions send traffic camera tickets without the accompanying footage. If this happens in your case, your attorney may request the footage. If law enforcement cannot present proof, you may get the ticket dismissed. Footage may get misplaced or could be wiped from the records during routine servicing.
Yellow Light Timing
Have you ever noticed that some yellow lights last longer than others? You may have wondered if you imagined it, but you did not. Generally speaking, the higher the speed limit, the longer the yellow light tends to be. If you overestimate the length of the yellow light, this could cause you to accidentally run a red light. If this is due to the light not being timed properly, you may get your ticket dismissed.
Theft or Unauthorized Driving
While this is not a legitimate reason for running a red light per se, it does provide a justifiable reason for why an individual should not be held accountable. Claiming theft of the license plate or that they were not the driver at the time is one of the most common reasons people give. In most jurisdictions, the burden of proof falls on law enforcement to show who was driving.
Like any other piece of technology, red-light cameras do not always work as they should. The photo may show you crossing the intersection, but was the light actually red at the time? Your attorney may ask for the last calibration report to ensure the camera is properly serviced. If the camera is due for service, you could get your ticket dismissed.
Work With an Experienced, Local Defense Attorney
Hiring a criminal defense attorney for a traffic ticket might seem unnecessary. However, if you have prior violations or live in a state where traffic camera violations affect your official driving record, a lot is at stake. Your insurance premium could skyrocket for up to three years or this strike might cost you your license. Hiring an experienced defense attorney in your area does not guarantee you will get the ticket dismissed, but it greatly improves your chances.
If running the red light led to property damage or physical injuries, you may need an attorney more than ever. Judges may feel less inclined to listen to any legitimate reason you present, even when you are telling the truth. If the victims have a pending civil suit or decide to file one, an upheld traffic camera ticket could negatively impact that case.
You may have only 14 days to contest your ticket, so it is important not to delay. We can speed up the process by connecting you with an attorney. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!