Red light cameras are used in many cities across the United States to crack down on drivers who illegally run red lights. Running a red light disrupts the flow of traffic and can lead to an accident, which puts the driver as well as all the other motorists and pedestrians in and near the intersection at risk of injury and death. Despite how common red light cameras are across the country, many drivers still find themselves confused about how they work, asking questions such as: “If a red light camera flashes, does it mean I get a ticket?”
The answer to this and similar questions such as: “If I ran a red light camera but no flash appeared, what happens” is: “It depends on the circumstances surrounding your case.” Red light camera enforcement, fines and even thresholds vary from city to city and state to state. You can find out the answers to your questions about the red light camera ticket you received by contacting law enforcement in the city where the ticket was issued or by visiting the city’s website. If you think you might have gotten a red light camera ticket but aren't completely certain, there are a few ways to find out for sure.
Wait to Receive a Ticket
The simplest way to know if you were issued a red light ticket is to simply wait for the ticket to arrive in your mailbox. The length of time between a red light camera catching a driver and the ticket arriving at the driver’s home varies between jurisdictions. Typically, the ticket arrives within 30 to 60 days, though it can arrive sooner.
It's possible to be issued a ticket and for the ticket to never arrive. There are a few reasons why this could happen:
- The driver moved and has not yet updated his address with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- The driver is not the car’s registered owner.
- The ticket was lost in the mail.
- The ticket was delivered to the wrong mailbox or accidentally taken by another member of the driver’s household or apartment complex.
None of these reasons are acceptable excuses for failing to pay a ticket.
Read More: How to Fix a Fix-It Ticket
Search Online Databases
In most cities and regional jurisdictions, information about traffic violations that have been issued is available online. If you suspect you were issued a ticket for any reason, such as if you ran a red light camera but no flash appeared, you can visit the website for the jurisdiction where the incident occurred and search for violations connected to your license plate number. If you've already received the ticket, you can also search the database for information about the alleged incident using the ticket number.
Generally, these online databases are also where you can pay your fine. For example, to pay a red light camera ticket Miami, log onto the Clerks of Courts website for Miami-Dade County.
Speak With the Local Police
Another way to determine whether you were issued a red light camera ticket is to ask the police in that jurisdiction whether a ticket has been issued to you. You can do this by contacting the local police online or via the non-emergency phone number to ask if you have any outstanding violations associated with your license plate number.
Speak With the Vehicle’s Owner
When an individual runs a red light while driving a vehicle owned by another person, the vehicle’s registered owner receives the ticket. When a driver runs a red light and notices the flash of the camera, or even if she ran a red light camera but no flash occurred, it is her responsibility to tell the vehicle’s owner, so the owner is not blindsided when a ticket arrives in his mailbox. Regardless of whether the driver tells the vehicle’s owner about the violation, the owner may file an Affidavit of Non-Liability, which states, under oath, that he was not driving the vehicle when the incident occurred along with the name of the person who was.
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