Used in towns across the nation, photo-enforced traffic sensors are like undercover police officers watching you as you drive. Taking pictures of red light or speeding violations in action, these cameras serve to increase the safety and care that drivers take while driving. San Diego County, one of the busier traffic areas in the country, is no exception. Photo-enforced traffic sensors are here, too. Despite the fact that they are becoming more common, many drivers are still unaware of what the law says about traffic violations caught on these sorts of cameras. Most just pay their ticket, sometimes up to $400, and move on. There’s a bit more to the legal side of these photo-enforced traffic sensors than you may think.
What Exactly are Photo-Enforced Traffic Sensors?
Traffic sensors are usually a part of a red-light camera system. Not only the camera is involved, although it plays a crucial role. The camera must only take pictures when certain conditions are met, such as the light being read or the car going a certain speed. There are sensors built into the road through systems such as underground electrical wires and electromagnetic fields that detect when a car has moved beyond a certain point, essentially moving into the intersection. Warning signs are required to be posted on these intersections to make drivers aware that red-light cameras are in place.
When Are Tickets Issued?
The camera doesn’t automatically send out a ticket. Someone must watch the tapes and see the photos before a ticket is issued. Police officers are trained to cross-check a number of points before a ticket is sent to the driver. For example, there must be a clear shot of the license plate and the plates must match the make of the car. Additionally, there usually must be a good image of the driver that matches the image on file for the driver’s license associated with the owner of the car. These, along with the situational information must be checked before a ticket is sent.
What’s the Law Surrounding Red Light Camera Tickets?
Before you go ahead and pay that ticket, consider this. There is a lot more that must be proven in court surrounding these sorts of tickets than tickets that are doled out by actual police officers. In the case of these cameras, for example, the driver must be notified within 15 days of the incident. There must also be proof that red-light camera warning signs were in place and that yellow light times were set according to procedure. Many drivers successfully take their case to court and win, or at least get a reduction on the ticket amount.
However, do beware. Ignoring the ticket in San Diego is bad news. Fines of up to $300 and license suspension are possible if the ticket isn’t paid off or resolved.
We can only expect to see more and more of these photo-enforced traffic sensors as they are popular ways for local governments to increase revenues. Safety may be increased, especially at intersections that have been known to be dangerous. In any case, as their use is guaranteed to continue, all drivers should be aware of how these systems work and what to look for if they’re caught on camera to be sure it’s a legitimate ticket.