The Rap on Red-Light Camera Tickets, Safety and Car Insurance Rates

by Barbara Marquand | posted in Auto Insurance

Crashes involving drivers who run red lights kill hundreds of people a year and injure many more. In an effort to reduce red-light violations, cities across the country have installed traffic cameras to catch violators in the act.

Run a red light, and snap! The camera takes a photo of your license plate, and a ticket arrives later in the mail. In some states your car insurance rates could go up, while in others these tickets-by-mail have no impact.

[Tickets? You might be able to get a better deal by comparing quotes through NerdWallet’s Car Insurance Tool.]

While hundreds, if not thousands, of cameras have been installed, research on whether the cameras actually make roads safer is inconclusive. Critics say camera programs are more about making money for cities and camera companies than improving safety, and 10 states have prohibited their use, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

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California Courts Protect Red Light Camera Collection Agency

California Court of Appeal rules that this is the wrong plaintiff and wrong lawyer to challenge red light camera collection tactics.

California’s second highest court on Thursday blocked a class action lawsuit against a red light camera collection agency. Motorist Richard Howard had filed suit against GC Services after he received notices falsely claiming that he owed $680 to the Los Angeles County Superior Court over an unpaid red light camera citation. The state Court of Appeal refused to allow his claim to be heard by a jury because this was the wrong person, with the wrong lawyer, to bring the case as a class action.

When Howard received a collection letter on July 12, 2010, he was confused as he had never received any photo ticket in the mail. Howard lives six hours away from Los Angeles in Concord, and he had not driven that far south since 1999. The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) knew nothing about the citation.

Howard’s suit argues that the collections letter was filled with fraudulent claims, including the false statement that the county court would garnish his wages if he failed to pay up immediately. In Los Angeles County, the court actually refused to enforce photo tickets, which led to the city dropping its camera program entirely. The collection letters were sent to as many as 22,000 motorists.

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Justin Bieber nailed by cops for speeding

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ … speed was a factor, but Justin was cited for unsafe passing on the right. JB was also given an equipment violation for window tint.

Justin Bieber’s passion for fast cars got the best of him Saturday night, when he got stopped by a Beverly Hills cop … and plenty of reinforcements.

Witnesses tell TMZ, Justin was going well over the 25 MPH speed limit in his new Ferrari when he was spotted on a residential street in Bev Hills.

After the stop, 3 other squad cars rolled up.  It’s unclear why.  We’re told Justin got a speeding ticket and went on his way.

He did not ask the cops, “What do you mean?”  They were clear.

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Redlands Police cite 10 for failure to yield during crosswalk enforcement

Highland Community News

Four police officers conducted the crosswalk detail Thursday, Aug. 20, at three intersections – Cajon and Vine streets; Redlands Boulevard between State and Fifth streets; and Olive Avenue between Cajon and Grant streets. Drivers were cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian within a crosswalk. Two bicycle riders were also cited for traffic violations.

Additional crosswalk enforcement efforts are planned in the coming months. Funding for the enforcement efforts came from a $155,410 Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, accepted by the City Council in September 2014. The grant covers traffic safety, enforcement and education activities.

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Little known, sometimes amusing traffic laws

Judge Tim Dickerson, Sierra Vista Herald

It may be informative, perhaps even surprising or amusing, to review some new, little known, or often ignored traffic laws.

In the category of little known laws, the driver of a vehicle exiting from an alley or private driveway, such as from a business along Fry Boulevard or a driveway in a residential area, must stop the vehicle immediately before driving onto the sidewalk or sidewalk area. The driver must also yield the right of way to pedestrians and approaching vehicles.

It is no longer a new law, but if a driver approaches a stationary vehicle which is displaying alternately flashing lights or warning lights, on a roadway with at least two lanes proceeding in the same direction as the approaching vehicle, the driver must change lanes away from the stationary vehicle if it is safe to do so. If the driver cannot safely change lanes, he or she must proceed with caution and reduce their speed, while maintaining a safe speed for road conditions.

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Opening of Newport Beach, CA, Office To Serve Upcoming California Traffic Ticket Amnesty

PR Rocket

Newport Beach, CA (PRWEB) August 18, 2015

On June 24, 2015, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a one-time sweeping Traffic Ticket Amnesty for the entire State of California. announces the opening of a Newport Beach (Orange County), CA,Office to assist Driver’s in qualifying for the upcoming Traffic Ticket Amnesty.

Beginning October 1, 2015, and expiring March 31, 2017, qualifying driver’s may have their past due traffic fines reduced by up to 80% and have their Driver’s License status reinstated to valid. Full guidelines for this California Traffic Ticket Amnesty effecting Failure to Appear and Failure to Paytickets may be found on the Superior Court’s website.

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Back To School: Police Targeting School Zones for Safety


News from the Petaluma PD:

The City of Petaluma Police Department and the Traffic Engineering Department will be conducting the “Safe Routes to School Traffic Safety Operation” during the first week of the 2015/2016 school year beginning Tuesday, August 18, 2015 for the Waugh School District and St. Vincent Elementary.

All other Petaluma City Schools and St. Vincent DePaul campuses start on Wednesday, August 19, 2015. The operation will deploy additional police officers, community service officers, and volunteers in and around school zones within the City of Petaluma.

The purpose of this operation is to increase the level of traffic safety in and around the school zones through maximum traffic enforcement of hazardous traffic violations and through an aggressive education campaign to educate students and parents of the importance of traffic safety.

This is the 18th year of the Safe Routes to School operation, which creates safe routes for everyone to get to and from school.

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Sending full bail with plea no longer required (sort of)

Up until now, the rule was you have to send the full bail amount of your ticket when contesting either by mail or in person; they won’t talk to you unless you FIRST pay the full amount.

On June 8, 2015, the California Judicial Council (the people who make the rules for the courts) ruled unanimously that courts can no longer require full bail when people submit their not-guilty plea.  So, they are no longer allowed to make that requirement:

“The system is broken,” said Christine Sun, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. “It has become clear that we are funding our judicial system through unfair fines and fees that act as a hidden tax on poor people — who may not be able to afford contesting their citation — and people of color, who are disproportionately pulled over and cited. This has to stop, and we’re pleased that the Judicial Council is taking action.”

Interestingly, some Ticket Assassin members have been told by court clerks that the ruling doesn’t take effect until September 15.

As is often the case, the court clerks are full of shit.  From the Mercury News:  

The new ban on this practice takes effect immediately, though courts have until Sept. 15 to ensure their forms, written instructions and websites comply with notification requirements.”

From the Napa Valley Register:

The Judicial Council’s decision takes effect immediately, and also requires courts to notify traffic defendants that they don’t have to make the payments to appear in court in any instructions or other materials they provide to the public.

Courts are facing a deadline to update their forms. But court clerks are telling ticketed motorists members is that until the form is updated, the requirement is still there. Horseapples.  The requirement is no longer there, as of June 8 2015, per the California Judicial Council.

Bottom line:

You can pay the full bail if you want to avoid a fight. You’ll get the money back if you are found not guilty. Or, you can stand up for yourself and insist the court follow their own god damn rules. It’s up to you.

This goes away on September 15 – just five weeks from now. As such, the Ticket Assassin doesn’t want to die on this particular hill – he believes in picking his battles.

Good luck. Let us know what you do and how it turns out.


It’s perfectly legal to use the map on your phone while driving

This ruling on cell phone GPS was handed down in February of 2014:

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Drivers in California can legally read a map on their hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The 5th District Court of Appeal reversed the case of a Fresno man who was ticketed in January 2012 for looking at a map on his iPhone 4 while stuck in traffic. The driver, Steven Spriggs, challenged the $165 fine.

Like I said – it was handed down at the beginning of last year, but cops are still handing out tickets to people looking at the map on their phones. We get members every day who need to defend themselves against this bogus ticket.  RESIST.

The unholy intersection of Chicago politics and automated enforcement

Unbelievably scummy.

CHICAGO – A request by the city of Chicago to toss a lawsuit challenging the fairness and constitutionality of its controversial red light camera program was denied by a Cook County judge.

The lawsuit alleges the city has issued more than $500 million in tickets under a program that wasn’t properly authorized by state lawmakers, the Chicago Tribune reported. It also accuses the city of issuing millions of tickets when yellow light times were too short at intersections equipped with red light cameras.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration, which argues the city has acted lawfully, asked Circuit Judge Rita Novak to dismiss the most recent in a series of similar lawsuits.

But Novak ruled on Thursday that the motorists who have been ticketed deserve their day in court. Although she said she understands the city’s concerns about being “subject to the same claims over and over,” Novak denied the request because the plaintiffs named in this case are new.

That’s the backstory. Here’s the money quote from the article:

On Thursday, Keating argued in court that the yellow light times of “up to half of all red light camera tickets issued . were in fact below three seconds,” as a result of the way traffic lights are set. The city has argued that it’s not legally bound to the 3-second minimum listed in federal guidelines.

Install a red light camera at an intersection.  Shorten the yellow light times so that more motorists find themselves hitting red lights. Ignore the fact that these shortened yellow light times are below the Federal guidelines, which say yellow light times should be about one second for each mile per hour, divided by ten. Rake in the cash from motorists.  I guess that’s how it works in Chicago.