Red-light cameras can be a major pain for any driver who has received a ticket. But there are some potential ways to fight red-light camera tickets on your own.
Aside from the fact that many jurisdictions are now finding that red-light cameras cause more harm than good, to be convicted of a traffic offense without any witness is, generally speaking, ludicrous.
Here's how you may be able to fight your red-light camera ticket and potentially avoid paying a hefty fine:
1. Examine Your Ticket.
You will likely receive a ticket a few weeks after being snapped by a red light camera, and the ticket will contain some useful information, such as:
- Where the incident occurred. The location will also alert you to which court you'll be in, which helps because each court has different local rules.
- Where and when to appear for a trial. The ticket should include a time and place to appear for your arraignment.
- A copy of the picture taken by the red-light camera. Sometimes this will include a picture of the driver and the license plate.
2. Know the Applicable State Law.
Each state law differs in its wording, but generally, prosecutors must prove that you were identified, you were driving, you were in their county, and you disobeyed a traffic signal.
In some states like California, you're allowed to disobey a traffic light because of an emergency or potential collision, and this may help get your red-light ticket dismissed.
3. Arguments at Trial.
Once you've appeared at your arraignment and are ready to present your case at trial, you'll want to remember some potential arguments, such as:
- The introduction of the camera photo into evidence is hearsay. A court cannot allow hearsay evidence without some exception, and it is contested in many jurisdictions whether a red light camera photo is considered hearsay.
- The photo cannot be used to prove the traffic light was properly operating. The prosecutor must provide some evidence that the red light was operating correctly, typically by way of a witness who maintains or checks that traffic signal.
- Use of the camera photo is a violation of your Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. The Constitution guarantees you the right to confront your accusers. That means the photo technically cannot be allowed into evidence without allowing you to cross-examine a witness who maintains the records and system associated with the camera.
Of course these are just a few potential arguments, and each red-light camera case is different. For more complex cases, or if you need personal advice on the best way to fight your red-light camera ticket, consider consulting an experienced traffic ticket lawyer near you.
- How to Fight Traffic Tickets, Five Strategies that Work (FindLaw)
- Are Red-Light Cameras Legal? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Study: Tough to Trick Red Light Cameras (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)