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Surveillance Cameras Enforce Traffic Laws

Growing numbers of counties have been using surveillance cameras, commonly called "red light cameras," to enforce traffic laws. These cameras are mounted at various locations to photograph traffic violations as they occur. The offender then receives a traffic ticket in the mail along with a photograph of the violation within two months. These red light cameras are used to capture:

  • Vehicles that exceed the speed limit
  • Vehicles that run red lights

Who Gets the Traffic Ticket?

Depending on the state, the tickets are issued to either the driver or owner of the car. In states that issue the ticket to the owner, despite who is actually driving, the camera needs only to photograph the car from behind to get a clear view of the rear license plate. In other states, the actual driver is responsible for paying the ticket, so there are multiple cameras to photograph the car, license plate and the driver's face. However, the ticket is still sent to the registered owner of the car.

What Information Is Captured by These Cameras?

When a licensed vehicle becomes fully transparent and readable to the mechanical eye, the traffic surveillance camera photographs:

  • License plate number
  • Make, color and model of the vehicle
  • Identity of the driver and, if present, passengers
  • Nearby bicyclists or motorists

The computer on the surveillance camera superimposes some extra information on the photographs, including:

  • Date and time
  • Intersection location
  • Speed of the car
  • Time from when the light turned red to when the car entered the intersection

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Most drivers or car owners can pay the fine through the mail or can try to contest the ticket in court. Unlike traditional traffic tickets, contesting a red light ticket produced by a camera and an automated system is very difficult to do in court, especially without the assistance of an attorney. A lawyer may be needed to attack the integrity of the camera and ticketing system.

Photo of page author Matthew Izzi

, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 05-19-2014 12:47 PM PDT

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