Getting a red light ticket in the mail is usually an unexpected and sometimes complicated matter to resolve. You have to decide whether to dispute the ticket or go ahead and pay the ticketing authority immediately. One issue of concern that you may have is whether this type of infraction could affect your ability to get the car registered at renewal time.
Red Light Camera Tickets
A red light camera ticket is generated when a driver runs a red light and the light takes a picture of his license plate. The camera is linked to the traffic light and can record a number of details, including the time, driver speed and the number of seconds after the light turned red. It is a traffic violation that could lead to points on the driver’s license in addition to the cost of the ticket.
Registering Your Car
The exact rules and requirements for registering your car vary by state. In most states it is unlikely that the department of motor vehicles will prohibit you from registering your vehicle due an unpaid traffic ticket. However, in some cities, like Austin, Texas, you could have trouble renewing your registration if you have outstanding red light tickets or other infractions. Though it is still not law as of the date of publication, In Nueces County in Corpus Christi, Texas, the city also has plans to try to prohibit registration if a car has outstanding red light tickets. To deal with people who blatantly ignore tickets, some local authorities are looking to make agreements with the state DMV office to try to collect the funds owed. The bottom line is that while it's unlikely you'll have problems registering your car due to this infraction, it is possible that certain cities or counties may try to enforce this rule. To avoid the potential risk, answer all red light tickets promptly.
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Even if an unpaid red light camera ticket does not prevent you from registering your car, you may experience other issues. For instance, if someone accumulates multiple tickets that aren’t paid after many months, that could cause the DMV to suspend licensing privileges. Also, some cities can tow your vehicle due to multiple unpaid tickets.
Disputing Red Light Camera Tickets
It is important to act on a red light camera ticket immediately to avoid problems with registration or other issues. If you doubt the validity of the ticket at all, don’t hesitate to send it in and contest it. Sometimes the camera equipment is faulty or the ticketing authority does not have a clear picture to prove you ran the red light. Sometimes red light cameras issue tickets due to what are called “rolling turns” where the driver is making a right on red and rolls slightly beyond the line instead of coming to a full stop first.
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; Q&A: Red Light Cameras; June 2011
- Your News Now Austin; Unpaid Traffic Tickets Could Affect Vehicle Registration; Nov. 28 2007
- KZTV10; Red Light Camera Plan Stalled; Mar 15, 2011; Melissa Schroeder
- Los Angeles Times; Rejecting Red-Light Cameras in L.A.; Jun. 09, 2011