Red light cameras were first installed in Texas in 2003. If you’ve received a notice in the mail that you ran a red light and were caught on camera, you must take action by the deadline on the notice. You may think you had a legitimate reason to run the red light -- perhaps you had to move into the intersection to let an ambulance through, or someone else may have been driving your car. In these cases, you can contest the violation or notify the city that another person was driving.
Contest the Violation
Inspect the ticket, particularly the back, for specific instructions and contact information. Note the deadline for responding.
Notify the city that you plan to contest. In some cities, such as Fort Worth, you can request an administrative hearing by filling out the information on the back of the ticket. In other cities, such as Houston, you must send in a separate form. You will receive notification in the mail of your hearing date and time. Some cities may have options to mail in supporting documents or have legal counsel appear in your place.
Show up for the hearing -- don’t skip it.
Inquire about appeal procedures if you lose at your hearing.
If You were not Driving
Look for an affidavit or declaration included with the ticket. Note the deadline for responding. The form may have a name like “Affidavit of Non-Liability” or “Declaration of Non-Liability” (or these may be two different forms, as they are for the city of South Lake). If your defense is that you were not driving the car, and the car was not stolen or sold, some cities, such as Plano and El Paso, will ticket the registered owner, regardless of who was actually driving.
Print the affidavit from the city’s website, if it is not included with the ticket. Note that sometimes the affidavit must be notarized.
Notify the city of who was actually driving the car when you send in the affidavit. This is especially important if the car is owned by a rental agency and a customer was responsible for the violation.
Submit a copy of the bill of sale with the affidavit if you had sold the car and the new owner was the guilty party.
Submit a police report and jurisdiction number (and possibly other information, depending on the city) with the affidavit if you reported the car stolen prior to the red light violation.
Red light camera penalties and procedures are set by the city government, and they vary from place to place. Always double-check to see what your city’s specific procedures are; these will most likely be listed on the back of the ticket.
Do everything in writing.
In most cases, you mail your forms to an office in your city. Under some circumstances, however, you may be asked to submit a form to a processing center in another state.
Don’t ignore the ticket if you think you were not at fault. You must still respond by the deadline or face penalties.