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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.
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.