Think Red Light Camera Tickets Are Junk Mail? Guess Again, as City Considers Crackdown.

Categories: City Hall, Crime

redlightcamera-thumb-225x183.jpg
Say cheese, then cough up your $75 bucks, or else...
If you've received one (or several) of the 125,000 citations issued to those who've run red lights under the watchful eye of those cameras perched over 66 intersections, you've faced two choices: Pay the $75 fine and avoid further hassle, or keep your money and take comfort in the fact that there's hardly an enforcement mechanism in place.

If you've chosen the latter option more times than you're comfortable admitting, the time to pony up some cash could be nearing. At this morning's Automated Red Light Enforcement Commission meeting at City Hall, Donzell Gipson, an assistant director at the Dallas Police Department, told committee members the DPD is considering a crackdown on repeat offenders.

After receiving ample notice, people with multiple unpaid tickets would be prevented from registering their car, making scofflaws liable for even steeper punishment. Gipson told Unfair Park this punitive system could go into effect shortly after the committee's next quarterly meeting.

"Hopefully that would get enough people's attention that they would take care of their account here," Gipson said, and it may put a dent in the "sizable accounts receivable," a tally that dates back to 2006.

As it stands now, commission member, Brett Ferguson said, "You don't really have to comply. ... I'm feeling both from the law enforcement side and the public side, people say, 'Well, I've paid mine, but I didn't have to pay.' And I just don't know the answer." If the outstanding balance adds up, it may affect a person's credit rating, but that's about it.

"It's voluntary compliance," Gipson said.

"There needs to be some repercussions for those repeat offenders," said committee chair Raul Magdaleno. "Give them a grace period: 'You have until this time, and if not, you won't be able to register your car." Magdaleno said he recommends people with three red light citations be prevented from registering their car. Committee members raised their hands in unanimous support.

Unlike citations issued directly by police, red light camera citations are not criminal, meaning a person can't be arrested for failure to repay the fine. Ferguson said some people should count themselves lucky to have only received a red light citation and not harsher punishment. "Maybe you had a tail light out. Maybe you had a couple drinks. Maybe your registration was expired. ... There is an upside to this for a lot of folks who get those tickets," he said.

Additionally, the DPD is considering upgrading the cameras at many intersections to effectively identify a greater number of license plates. Gipson said the department has the capacity of annually ticketing another 30,000 people running red lights if they could accurately document more incidents.

"The attempt is to change the behavior," Gipson told Unfair Park. "It's our way of tapping them on the shoulder." While the program supports itself, it isn't a big moneymaker for the city, which equally splits the revenue with the state.

Gipson said he's concerned that the safety effects of red light cameras often get lost in conversations about money and implementation. To that end, Elizabeth Ramirez, P.E., assistant director of the city's Streets Department, gave the committee a briefing on the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) study, which studied the safety impacts of red light cameras in 12 Texas cities and was released in June.

The study, which compared crash frequencies to determine the cameras' effectiveness, concluded that the cameras' implementation resulted in a 27 percent overall decrease in the frequency of accidents and a 38 percent decrease in Dallas. "Overall you're seeing that there's a consistent reduction of crashes," Ramirez said.

So, it's not all about the money, even though red light debtors may soon be reaching into their pockets to keep their vehicle legal.

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29 comments
escapevelocity23
escapevelocity23

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rikochet0615
rikochet0615

Hmm, i just read "commission member, Brett Ferguson said " If the outstanding balance adds up, it may affect a person's credit rating, but that's about it."


This is contradicted by the Texas state law saying this is a civil and not a criminal penalty:

Sec. 707.003.  INSTALLATION AND OPERATION OF PHOTOGRAPHIC TRAFFIC SIGNAL ENFORCEMENT SYSTEM.
(h)  A local authority or the person with which the local authority contracts for the administration and enforcement of a photographic traffic signal enforcement system may not provide information about a civil penalty imposed under this chapter to a credit bureau, as defined by Section 392.001, Finance Code. Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1149, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.
Notice it says may not provide information about a civil penalty to a credit bureau.  This means if not paid, cannot report it. They can try to get it other ways, but this commission member obviously does NOT know Texas law.

Solarcide
Solarcide

I find it interesting that the study funded by the  Texas Transportation Institute shows a decrease in accidents, when unbiased studies have shown quite the opposite, an increase in accidents at intersections that have cameras installed.

derechista
derechista

how did they know it was you that was driving your vehicle? Just because you own it doesn't mean you're always the one driving it?

Anonymous
Anonymous

So how are they still reporting to credit agencies after Sep 1, 2009 when transportation code 707.003(h) went into effect.

(h)  A local authority or the person with which the local authority contracts for the administrationand enforcement of a photographic traffic signal enforcement system may not provideinformation about a civil penalty imposed under this chapter to a credit bureau, as defined bySection 392.001, Finance Code.

Guest
Guest

LOL, check out how that hollow threat to refuse registration renewal worked in Houston.  Unregistered vehicles run just as well as registered ones anyway.

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jcwconsult
jcwconsult

In almost every case, longer yellow intervals would reduce violations by MORE than ticket cameras. Many cities do not like to actually improve safety this way with drastically fewer drivers violating red lights because the improved safety is NOT PROFITABLE.Cities that put safety first time the yellow intervals for maximum safety and then see that ticket cameras would be too expensive to use because they would not record enough violations to even pay the cameras basic costs.  The science is on our website.  Red light cameras are a revenue system, NOT a safety system.James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, www.motorists.org, Ann Arbor, MI (frequent visitor to Texas for extended stays)

Joe Donnellan
Joe Donnellan

Privatized traffic law enforcement systems may or may not be a useful tool in keeping drivers and pedestrians safe. But when private firms and municipalities consider profits first, and safety second, the public interest is threatened.  Before pursuing a camera system contract, local governments should heed the advice (http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/int... ) of the Federal Highway Administration and first investigate traffic engineering solutions for problem intersections or roadways. If officials decide that private enforcement systems are appropriate, they should avoid deals that constrain decisions about protecting safety. Privatized traffic law enforcement should be used solely as a tool for enhancing traffic safety – not as a cash cow for municipalities or private firms. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group will be releasing a report on this subject on October 27.  Once it is released, it will be available at www.uspirg.org/trafficcamrepor.... - Joe Donnellan for U.S. PIRG

Mike
Mike

If you were going too fast to obey traffic signs or lights, you were going too fast.  The law handles icy roads by saying you as a driver shall lower your speed so you can safely do it or you don't drive.  That's pretty simple stuff reinforced on every driving test I've taken.

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

ticket goes up to $100.00 if not paid on time.cost me $200.00 for allowing nephew use of my car. I often think of Garrett Morgan who design instrument light ,as it was called, to bring multiple people, in traffic to a halt.

tom2
tom2

I've never been cited but there’s just something unseemly and sleazy about local officials who use law enforcement as a means of generating revenue.  Consequently, photo enforcement has never survived a public vote.  They’ve been banned outright, or so severely restricted as to make them unworkable in Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin.  Lakeland (FL) paid $667,000 to wrongfully convicted drivers in a class action lawsuit.  More than 500 red-light camera tickets worth about $250,000 were dismissed after a Superior Court Judge affirmed her earlier ruling that the Napa (CA) contract violated state law.   Des Plaines (IL) will add no more because they’re not effective.  Albuquerque citizens just voted them out.

Perhaps it's time Dallas citizens step up and dump them too.  If permitted to continue, they'll be used in other ways to dominate us.  Last I heard, red-light cameras are used in about 500 communities in 26 states, less than 2% of America’s 30,000 communities.  If city bosses really believe cameras reduce accidents, they’d have marked them with large, bright colors instead of making them difficult to see.  It's always about the money and the people aren’t stupid enough to think otherwise.  It looks like most realize this is NOT the kind of world free humans want, a world in which our superiors and their police remotely monitor our actions to ensure approved behavior.

Alfredo
Alfredo

When did Dallas get the legal authority to deny registration?

md
md

My tally:

- Rear-ended once for stopping instead of proceeding through a yellow light. Driver of third vehicle that caused collision left in ambulance.

- Ticketed once for failing to come to a complete stop when turning right on red -- which is what over 85% of all red-light camera tickets are for

- One abusive, disrespectful letter received from the city/private partner threatening to hurt my credit rating for failing to pay the citation in a timely fashion

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

That TTI study is BO-GUS.  The data it collected specifically excluded rear-end crashes caused by people locking it up to avoid getting a red light ticket.  AND the City's not making the money it was promised.  The fundamental problem with these cameras is that there's really not a group of drivers out there that will run a red light if there's no camera but will if there isn't.

AbstinenceMexican
AbstinenceMexican

I would say that these cameras have had some impact, more drivers pay close attention to their surroundings. Now I actually notice those “Do not turn on Red” signs. I slow down when the yellow light comes on, in which depending if I am going the actually speed limit, can be a rough break lol.

Sybils_Beaver
Sybils_Beaver

Ill repeat this over and over.... but I got a red light ticket and now instead of safely proceeding through the intersection on a yellow light, I cram the brakes on, ABS kicks in, and the guy behind honks and gives me the finger bc he almost hits me.  Yeah you may stop head on and t-bone  wrecks, but increase rear end impacts.

The Stig
The Stig

I contested my red-light camera ticket twice, and lost both times. Pouring rain, in a truck, driving 6 MPH below the posted speed limit, visibility less than 100 feet, light turns and I have no way of stopping before the crosswalk so just rolled through. The timing of the lights, and cameras, is based on posted speed limit, width of the intersection, ideal weather conditions and a passenger car in good mechanical condition. I wonder how they handle icy roads.The thing to remember is this is a civil action, not a criminal one. They can turn you over to a bill collector but that is about it. If your FICO score is in the toilet why pay.This "the beatings will continue until compliance improves" isn't going to get much traction in the current economy where nearly 25% of cars in Dallas don't have MANDATORY liability insurance.

jim all
jim all

good thing my car's not registered in dallas county.

Yakuza_Fighter
Yakuza_Fighter

Los Angeles just got rid of their red-light program.  A ticket there used to cost $450!  Yikes!

"The unpopular cameras have churned out virtually unbeatable tickets to tens of thousands of Angelenos, most of whom got socked with an eye-popping $450 fine for rolling through a right turn on red — a violation that almost never results in accidents."

Mike
Mike

Yeah that red light camera is really tough domination. Libyans endure mass execution of prisoners and Syrians protect women and children from army tanks. They have nothing on the dictatorial burden endured by Dallas drivers: coming to a complete halt when making a right turn on red. Oh the humanity!

Follow the traffic laws and you will not have a problem.

Clay
Clay

So we should endure everything short of mass executions? Follow the laws no matter how wrong or unConstitutional they are, and we shouldn't have problem? How about a camera on your street corner? Or your bedroom? You should be ok with it, unless you have something to hide, right?

md
md

Many have a problem with private companies and cities working together to monitor the population using technology in order to profit.

They shouldn't let word leak out they're planning a rebellion though. If they do, they'll be found using the red light cameras and the license plate scanners police vehicles are now being equipped with in order to find and boot scofflaws.

As for you, I suppose you believe turning right on red without a complete stop is such a terrible crime it deserved a $500 fine to deter people. And you wouldn't be against a $1,000 fine automatically imposed for exceeding the speed limit by 1 MPH either.

If so, I don't suppose you are an idiot, I know you are.

james
james

obey big brother or else.

tom2
tom2

I don't now and never had a problem because I follow the law.  But it seems the Libyans and Syrians didn't resist small forms of domination.  Hmmm...  I wonder how that worked out in the long run.  Oh that's right, you've already answered that question.  Never mind.  Just go along and sing along.

drgomez
drgomez

The cameras also don't care about "lawbreakers". They identify vehicles moving through traffic lights meaning, effectively, that individuals driving vehicles not registered in their own names are not liable for breaking said laws.

Clay
Clay

Go live in Great Britain, you'll love the cameras they have over there, everywhere, watching everything.

Mike
Mike

I will leave the fine to the democratic reps.  We should have a fine and I do not see an issue with using cameras to identify lawbreakers.  While looking for scoflaws, it would be good to check windshields for expired inspections and registrations.  Maybe synch up the plates with insurance status too.  What is stupid is having people identified as at fault in one system and the other systems don't know.  Driving a car is not a right.  You need to get right with the state at least once a year if you would like to continue to drive. 

When everyone lived in a little town, these complaints would be nonsensical.  We have people breaking the laws relying vast numbers to protect them.  To my knowledge, cameras don't care about race, creed, color, gender, or income.  Sounds pretty good.

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