How do I Fight a Red Light Camera Ticket?

Autumn Rivers

Receiving a red light camera ticket does not always mean that you will have to pay a fine, especially if you do not think that the ticket is fair. For example, if the photo is not of you, or if it is too blurry to be sure, you can typically avoid paying the fine. In addition, if the warning sign for the red light camera is not easy to see, you may be able to fight the ticket since the sign is supposed to be visible to all traffic. Finally, if you suspect that the yellow light is unusually short, your ticket may be thrown out, since this may result in insufficient time to stop before the red light appears. In most cases, it is advised that you talk to a lawyer to find out if you have a strong case.

A red light camera operates by taking a picture of the back of a car to get the license plate number in order to issue a ticket for running a red light.
A red light camera operates by taking a picture of the back of a car to get the license plate number in order to issue a ticket for running a red light.

The ticket is typically supposed to include a clear photo of both your face and your license plate. If the picture of your face is too blurry for others to positively identify you, your red light camera ticket may be thrown out in court, as this is one of the most common reasons for a judge to dismiss a fine. If you are not sure whether to fight the ticket based on this technicality, you should visit the police department to find out if the original photo is as blurry as your copy, since this is the evidence that will likely be used in court. Of course, if you know the picture is not you, as a friend or family member borrowed your vehicle, you can let the court know. Note in most jurisdictions, you are not required to reveal the identity of the person in the photo, making this a simple way to fight the red light camera ticket.

Police may issue traffic tickets to individuals who fail to stop for a red light.
Police may issue traffic tickets to individuals who fail to stop for a red light.

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Warning signs for the camera are usually required to be seen from cars traveling in any direction, even if the camera only takes photos of cars going one way. This typically means that there should be four signs at the affected intersection, so if the area in question is missing even one sign, providing proof via a picture can help you fight the red light camera ticket. If the signs are all there, but some are either vandalized or difficult to see because of foliage, you may still have a case. They need to be made obvious to drivers, so if you find them difficult to spot while driving, you have a chance of getting the ticket dismissed.

A yellow light that is shorter than usual can result in more red light camera tickets. If you can provide evidence that the yellow light does not appear long enough before turning red, you may be able to have your red light camera ticket dismissed. Most areas have a minimum length that the yellow light must meet, so consider videotaping the light in order to show the court that there may be an issue with it.

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Discussion Comments


@Reminiscence, I agree that there may be too many false positives with these red light cameras, but I also think they serve a really good purpose. I've been in traffic situations where one driver will just plow through a clearly red light and nearly cause a wreck. I've always hoped that a police car would be in that area and witness the whole thing, but that doesn't happen very often.

With the red light ticket cameras, at least the police might be able to get a good identification on that person and pursue legal charges. If someone feels they've received a ticket by mistake, by all means they should be able to challenge it in court. But sometimes a person who enjoys speeding and running red lights needs a wake-up call.


I think these red light camera systems are nothing more than revenue generators for the city, anyway. I could see their purpose if there were no ambiguity about the driver's guilt at all. If someone deliberately runs a red light and a camera system gets tripped, then the ticket is valid. But there have been a lot of incidents like the ones described in the article. The driver's face can't be seen, or the camera caught someone at a "point of no return" moment.

I remember a lecture in my drivers' education class about reaching a point of no return once a light turned yellow. Sometimes it would be more dangerous to make a sudden stop at an intersection than to continue on through under a fresh red light. At least in my experience, there's a time when all traffic is stopped by red lights anyway, so a driver going through the fresh red light is doing the best thing for everybody. It beats slamming on the brakes and possibly causing a rear end collision.

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