Beating a red light camera ticket in California can be difficult but not possible. It's something worth looking into because these tickets can cost $500 when you factor in traffic school. And somebody needs to pay for the red light cameras. Although daunting, many before you have beat red light camera tickets in California and so can you, with a bit of work.
Fight the red light camera ticket in California in court if you're not in the photograph at all. The judge could fine you for contempt of court if you refuse to snitch on the driver, but in most cases your ticket will be dismissed when you refuse to answer the first time.
Fight the ticket if you were not the driver but are a passenger CAREFULLY.
Try to stay out of court and fight the ticket by mail. If you make your case in court, the judge could ask you to identify the driver. If you refuse to answer in court, the judge can fine you for contempt of court for a question which you likely know the answer to as a passenger. When you fight the ticket by mail, the police will ask you who was the driver. Legally, you can't be compelled to answer or remember who it might be. If you were a passenger and not the driver, don't mention that in your reply. You should not make the police's job easier. It's possible the police officer will fail to make the connection that you were a passenger in the photograph.
What the police will probably do is pull the photos of everybody living at your address and try to identify the driver. If they can't, you will probably win.
Make an informal discovery request. Your discovery request should be long and thorough for the red light camera. The request should include the following (and much more):
- a copy of the original contract between the government agency and the red light camera vendor including all updates, amendments, renewals, extensions, revisions, etc.
- all invoices from the red light camera vendor to the government agency
- maintenance record for the camera
- high resolution images taken to identify the driver
- the entire 12 second sequence of the red light video
- first five warning tickets and last five warning tickets for each approach as required by California Vehicle Code 21455.5. Confidential information about the driver should be redacted.
- radar speed survey within 1/2 mile of the intersection
- signal timing charts for the intersection
- the source code used in programming the red light camera
There are many legal services on the internet that fight red light camera tickets in California with this tactic and will do it for you which will save you time and possibly points on your driving record.
If you are sure you want to try to fight the ticket instead of go to traffic school, apply for a trial by written declaration. This is going to be much more work for you to fight the red light camera ticket in California, but you may save yourself $500, points on your driving record, and possibly increased traffic costs. For a person who drives for a living, this step is definitely worth it.
A police officer in California gets paid overtime to show up in court, but generally gets paid nothing for a trial by written declaration. In 30% of cases, the cop doesn't fill out his written declaration at all, which will lead to your case being dismissed.
If you lose during the trial by written declaration, get a trial by de Novo and go to court and tell your story to the judge. Only in traffic cases can a defendant get a second shot at winning.