Surveillance Camera Traffic Ticket

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 How Are Surveillance Cameras Used to Enforce Traffic Laws?

Surveillance cameras, also known as motion-activated cameras, speed cameras, or red light cameras, are all names of technologies that have increasingly been utilized to enforce speed limits and red lights in certain jurisdictions. The two primary types of surveillance cameras that are used to implement traffic laws are red-light cameras and speed cameras.

Although surveillance camera systems will differ depending on the manufacturer and how a local municipality utilizes them, surveillance cameras are generally motion-activated at red lights when a car enters an intersection after the light has turned red or when a vehicle approaches the range of the camera and activates the motion sensors.

The camera will then either take a photo of the license plate that entered the section or record the vehicle’s speed as it passes the camera. A red light camera ticket may then be generated by the evidence provided by the camera and then relayed to the local municipality to be mailed to the car’s registered owner.

In other words, red-light cameras will take photographs of motor vehicles as they enter an intersection while the light they are situated on is red, while speeding cameras will utilize similar motion-activated technology to determine drivers who exceed the speed limit.

Generally speaking, surveillance cameras are usually mounted on or near traffic signals that are installed by municipalities at busy crossroads. Surveillance cameras will take photos of license plates to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to then send a traffic citation to the lawbreaker. It is important to also note that surveillance cameras may be utilized by private companies, such as toll companies, in order to take photos of every vehicle’s license plate that utilizes tolled roads managed by the private toll company.

Are Speed and Red Light Cameras Legal?

In short, it depends on the laws of the jurisdiction that the speed cameras are being utilized. The purpose of speed cameras is to lessen the amount of traffic accidents in any given locality and state. As such, there are many states that permit the use of speed cameras and red light cameras within their state.

The following is a list of states that allow speed and red light cameras to be utilized within the state:

  • Arizona;
  • California;
  • Colorado;
  • Delaware;
  • Florida;
  • Georgia;
  • Maryland;
  • Ohio;
  • Oregon;
  • Pennsylvania;
  • Rhode Island;
  • Tennessee;
  • Virginia; and
  • Washington.

All of the above states permit the use of traffic cameras statewide in order to enforce traffic violations within the state. The following states permit the use of red light and speed cameras, but only within specific jurisdictions:

  • Alabama;
  • Hawaii;
  • Illinois;
  • Iowa;
  • Louisiana;
  • Missouri;
  • New Mexico;
  • New York; and
  • North Carolina.

In addition to the above states, there are other states that do not have laws that explicitly provide that the use of speed and red light cameras is illegal. This means that those states may seek to allow the use of camera technology moving forward at a later point in time. In any case, legally operating a vehicle is paramount in order to ensure that an individual does not receive a citation or cause harm to other motorists around them.

How Are Traffic Cameras Utilized Against You?

Once again, traffic cameras are installed and utilized by local municipalities and jurisdictions in order to provide evidence that a motorist has violated a traffic law. The cameras will record the traffic infraction and then provide evidence of the infraction to the person or entity designated to receive the information.

That information will then be utilized to determine whether or not the motorist violated the traffic laws, as well as determine whether or not they should receive a traffic citation. In general, traffic citations related to infractions caught by surveillance cameras will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle at the address in which the vehicle is registered.

Then, the registered car owner will have to pay the traffic ticket fines. The vehicle owner may also engage in fighting a traffic ticket by contesting the ticket at their local traffic court.

What Are the Laws Regarding the Use of Surveillance Cameras?

In terms of federal laws, federal courts have declared that states and local cities have the freedom to utilize speeding and red light cameras. Further, federal lawsuits that have previously challenged private businesses’ use of surveillance cameras have previously been either disregarded or overthrown by federal courts.

Once again, the exact laws regarding the use of surveillance cameras will depend on the state laws in which the surveillance cameras are being used. Although many states allow the use of surveillance cameras, the cameras are not permitted in other states. As such, it is important to consult your local state and municipality’s statutes regarding whether or not surveillance cameras may be utilized in your local jurisdiction.

How Long Do Traffic Cameras Keep Footage?

In short, the answer will depend on the manufacturer of the traffic camera, as well as the document and retention policies for the local municipality that is employing the use of the traffic cameras. Generally speaking, if you have received a ticket due to a traffic ticket, the footage will often only be available for a short period of time, such as 24 to 72 hours in many localities. Then, once the footage is gone, it will not be able to be utilized as evidence.

As such, immediately making a request for the footage may be necessary if you plan on utilizing the footage as evidence that you did not, in fact, commit an infraction. This often requires contacting the appropriate locality and making a formal request for a copy of the footage.

Do Traffic Cameras Go On Your Record?

The traffic cameras and evidence provided by traffic cameras will not go on an individual motorist’s record itself. However, the evidence may be utilized to prosecute an individual for a traffic infraction or crime.

If convicted of a traffic violation, the traffic infractions will appear on a person’s driving record but not on their criminal record. However, if the local state’s laws treat traffic infractions as criminal matters, then a conviction will remain on an individual’s criminal record for a specified period of time.

Can I Challenge a Traffic Camera Ticket?

In terms of your legal options, after you have received a traffic camera ticket, options most commonly include:

  1. Admit Responsibility: Admitting responsibility for the traffic camera ticket is generally accomplished by entering a plea of no contest.
    • In legal terms, this is not admitting or denying responsibility but simply paying a fine associated with the plea of no contest;
  2. Contest The Ticket: Contesting the traffic ticket consists of challenging the evidence provided by the traffic camera.
    • If you have witness statements, photos of the area, and/or diagrams of where your car was in relation to the traffic camera, your case will be stronger when contesting the ticket;
  3. Hire a Traffic Ticket Lawyer: If you believe that you did not commit the violation you are being accused of, you may also wish to hire a traffic lawyer in order to get the ticket dismissed;
  4. Attend Traffic School: You may also be able to pay the traffic ticket and attend traffic school.
    • If you are eligible to attend traffic school, then you will not have any traffic penalty points added to your driving record.
    • As a result, this will help you keep a “clean” driving record, as well as lower insurance premiums.

How Much Do Red Light Tickets Cost?

The cost of a red light ticket will depend on the laws of the local jurisdiction where you got the traffic infraction. For example, there are more than 40 cities and counties throughout the state of California that utilize red-light cameras as a traffic enforcement tool. In those counties, a person who is captured by a camera running a red light will receive a citation in the mail that can cost them about $500.

What Is the Argument Around Surveillance Cameras?

Most of the debate and arguments surrounding the use and employment of traffic surveillance cameras is a debate on the usefulness of surveillance cameras. Supporters of surveillance cameras will state that they serve to save lives by enforcing traffic laws.

Critics, on the other hand, will contend that the cameras may increase casualties as individuals may attempt to speed through a yellow light in order to avoid being captured by a red light camera on a light that switches suddenly. Further, critics also will argue that surveillance cameras will increase municipal earnings rather than ensure that the streets are actually safer.

In fact, in a study by the Federal Highway Administration (“FHA”) on red light camera systems, the study observed that such surveillance systems raise highway safety while lowering crash-related costs. However, this study was questioned by the National Motorists Association, which asserted that such cameras are useless, costly, and violate an individual’s due process rights.

The arguments surrounding the due process of law correlate to how evidence of speeding or running a red light is confirmed because the evidence is compiled by a machine rather than a human being, such as a law enforcement officer.

However, most jurisdictions confirm the surveillance camera image evidence with a traffic officer before administering a traffic citation for the registered owner. There is also controversy surrounding the service of the traffic citation, as most are served via mail to the registered address rather than in person to the driver at the time of the infraction.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

You may be accused of violating a traffic law due to evidence related to a surveillance camera. If so, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced traffic ticket lawyer. An attorney will be best suited to helping you understand your legal rights and options under your state’s specific traffic and moving violation laws concerning surveillance cameras. Additionally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court as needed.

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