5 Things to Know About Red Light Camera Tickets in California

In California, running a stop sign or red light means you’ll typically be looking at a fine and demerit points on your driving record. And now, many locations throughout California have red light cameras in place to capture law violators. It’s important to respond accurately and promptly when you receive one of these red light camera tickets.

Here are five things you should know about red light camera tickets in California so that you are prepared in case you receive one.


1. Red Light Camera Tickets are Triggered by Sensors

In Los Angeles and most cities throughout California, a red-light ticket is triggered when a vehicle passes above a sensor when the light is red in the intersection. The camera then snaps a photo of the license plate on the vehicle and the driver. You might notice that you’ve been caught running a red light by a camera because the camera flashes will go off as you pass through the intersection. A traffic ticket will then be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. Accompanying the ticket will be the dollar amount you must pay in fines, the photo evidence, a copy of the traffic citation, and information on how to challenge the ticket.


2. Most Red Light Cameras are Run by Third Parties

The majority of red light camera systems in California are installed and run by outside companies and not the city. As such, these companies are motivated to give drivers a ticket. They are often contractually obligated to meet a minimum number of recorded violations, so vehicle owners may be on the receiving end of unwarranted tickets.


3. Red Light Camera Ticket Fines

The amount of fines a driver has to pay for California traffic violations includes a base fine plus several fees and surcharges, which can substantially increase the total fine amount. The fees and surcharges are variable, but you can count on the base fine as the standard starting point.

Here are the base fines for stop light and stop sign violations in California:

  • $100 for running straight through a solid or flashing red light
  • $35 for making an illegal right turn at a red light, and
  • $35 for running a stop sign.


4. Red Light Camera Ticket Points & Other Ramifications

In addition to the violation fines associated with stop light and stop sign violations, Californians also need to be aware that each of these will add one point to their driving records. Acquiring too many points can lead to a license suspension. Fortunately, this red light violation point can be avoided by completing a course through a California traffic school.

Drivers should also know that a red light or stop sign violation could lead to a reckless driving conviction, depending on the circumstances of the violation. If, as a worst-case scenario, one of these offenses results in the death of another person, the driver may be charged with vehicular manslaughter.


5. You May be Able to Lower, Dismiss, or Ignore Your Red Light Camera Ticket

Here are a few important red light ticket factors of which you should be aware:

  • Some red light tickets are given accidentally, such as when you make a right-hand turn on red without coming to a complete stop first.
  • Depending on the type of violation, you may be able to keep points off of your record or fight to have the fine lowered. Get in touch with someone in the know, such as an attorney or online traffic school, to find out.
  • According to California law, a citation can only be issued for a red light camera violation if there is a clear picture of both the driver and the license plate.
  • Not all red light camera tickets require action on your part or come with penalties for not paying a fine.

If you find yourself in receipt of a red light camera ticket in California, being informed is your first line of defense.