You open your mail to discover a photo of you behind the wheel of the car.
Who took this unflattering picture?
Most likely, you didn't get snapped by the paparazzi; you just received a photo radar traffic ticket.
What is a Photo Radar Ticket?
States that issue photo traffic tickets (also known as red light camera tickets) station cameras at key traffic areas in their cities. Then, when you break the rules of the road, these cameras trigger to automatically snap a picture of you in the act.
Photo radar tickets commonly capture these types of traffic citations:
- Running a red light.
- Stopping in a crosswalk.
After the camera takes your photo, the state mails you a copy of the photo, along with an explanation of your citation and a fine amount.
What to do if You Receive a Photo Traffic Ticket
When you receive your traffic citation in the mail, the ticket will provide information on how to pay the fine or fight your traffic ticket. These camera traffic tickets will also provide information on how to proceed if the person pictured in the photograph is not you.
In most states, you have three options on how you can plead when ticketed for moving violations:
- No contest (nolo contendre)
- Not guilty
Often, if you plead guilty or no contest, you can simply pay your fine and move on. If you plead not guilty, you will likely need to appear in court. Check on your citation for information on your options.
Do You Have to Pay a Photo Radar Ticket?
Some people argue that states cannot enforce photo traffic tickets and that tickets are only valid when issued in person. While laws vary by state, most often this logic doesn't hold up. Typically, red light camera tickets are totally valid.
Still, some drivers choose not to pay photo radar tickets because they believe they won't get caught. While many states often don't prosecute non-payment on these speeding tickets, drivers who choose not to pay take a risk. Some states impose increased fines on drivers who don't pay. Others could go so far as to issue a warrant.
Consider consulting a traffic attorney before deciding how to gamble.
How to Pay a Red Light Camera Ticket
If you choose to pay a photo radar ticket, read your citation and follow the payment instructions. Most likely, your traffic ticket will offer several payment methods: mail, phone, or online. If you have any questions, call the number listed on your speeding ticket for more information.
Remember: Many photo radar traffic tickets include payment deadlines. Review your ticket carefully to ensure that you pay on time. If you miss your payment deadline, your fine might increase or even double.
Have you ever received a photo traffic ticket? Did you pay it? Why or why not? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.