red light camera

Do You Really Have to Pay Your Texas Red Light Camera Ticket?

There are plenty of reasons why you might not want to pay your red light camera ticket. Maybe you object to red light cameras on principle, maybe you don’t think you really ran the red light, or maybe you just object to handing over your hard-earned money.

If you got your ticket in Texas, you might have more options than you think.

Before you get out your credit card or checkbook, think through these questions to make sure you really have to pay that ticket.

If I don’t pay, will the debt be sent to collections?

Yes. Your unpaid red light camera fine will eventually be sent to a collection agency, and you may begin receiving collections calls.

If that sounds like too much hassle, you might consider just paying the ticket.

If not, read on!

Will the ticket show up on my driving record?

No. By state law, unpaid red light camera tickets cannot be reported on the vehicle owner’s driving record and an arrest warrant cannot be issued.

Will I be able to renew my vehicle registration?

If you fail to pay your ticket, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles or your local county assessor-collector can refuse to register the vehicle allegedly involved in the violation. This is known as a “scofflaw block.”

If you try to renew online directly through the DMV, your registration will be blocked. But if you go to the county assessor-collector office in person, you might be in luck. It’s up to each county to decide whether to enforce a scofflaw block. Some counties have decided that it’s just not worth the extra time and hassle to force drivers to pay their fines to cities.

According to the website, the following counties do not block vehicle registrations for outstanding red light camera tickets:

  • Calhoun
  • Chambers
  • Galveston
  • Harris
  • Potter
  • Tarrant

Will the unpaid debt hurt my credit?

State law says that unpaid red light camera tickets cannot be reported to a credit bureau. But depending on when the city where you received your ticket started its red light camera program, you could still be on the hook.

The statewide law regulating red light cameras took effect in 2007. According to The Dallas Morning News, any city that had a red light camera contract before 2007 is grandfathered, and may report unpaid fines to a credit bureau.

If you got your ticket in one of the following cities, failing to pay will mean a hit to your credit score:

  • Dallas
  • Arlington
  • Cedar Hill
  • Coppell
  • Denton
  • DeSoto
  • Duncanville
  • Farmers Branch
  • Frisco
  • Garland
  • Houston
  • Irving
  • Plano
  • Richardson
  • Rowlett
  • University Park

Please note that this may not be a complete list - make sure to check when your city’s program started before deciding not to pay!

What if the city already ended the program?

Several cities in Texas have voted to end their red light camera programs, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for a ticket you received while they were in effect.

Cities may still collect fines for violations that were caught by the cameras. Houston, which ended its program in 2010, still collects fines, and advises that there is no statute of limitations that would bar the city from collecting the debt.

Make sure to find out the situation in the city where you received your ticket.

What are my other options?

If you want to fight or contest the ticket, follow the directions listed on the ticket to request this option from your court.

Don’t assume that because the violation was issued by a camera that no one will be there to oppose you. According to Texas police departments, an officer reviews the footage of each violation and signs off before a ticket is issued. Be prepared to present your case, or consider hiring an attorney.


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My daughter received a red light ticket in the mail a few months ago. At that time we were living at my in laws house and the ticket was forwarded to their address. We were in the process of moving and lost the ticket. How do we find out where she got the ticket and where we need to pay it? Thank you!

How can police issue a moving violation without identifying the driver?

State law is written in such a way that the registered owner of the vehicle is liable for anything done with the vehicle. That's why we have laws on theft AND unauthorized use of the vehicle. In order to prove that you weren't the one driving AND prove that you're not responsible for the things done with the car, you'd have to show that the person using it was not authorized to drive it in the first place. That's pretty easy to do if your eight year old child drives to McDonald's. But if you let your brother use your car to get to work, then you're responsible to the state for any fines. How you get your brother to pay you back is on you.

I had the same thing happen. My son, who is an authorized driver, was driving and I received the citation in the mail over a month later. Supposedly the senate was trying to get the red light cams banned in Texas but I see they are still in effect and operating. If the citation is not paid it will effect me, not him, since I am the registered owner. The system has it flaws.

Am I able to dispute the red light ticket citation once it goes to collections such as request to appear in court?

Are the red light cameras still in effect in Texas or were they banned? I know the Senate was trying but never saw if it passed or not.

Sue the city in small claims court. It's a no brainer attempt to administrate away your constitutional rights. They can't appeal and you could walk away with $8,000.00 or less depending on the Judge. If everybody did this they would panic and take them down.

I received one from Burleson in 2017. My thing is they cannot prove I was behind the wheel so without just cause I shouldn't be given any problem. I'm hearing that if I don't pay the fine it can keep me from renewing my DL is this true?

Apparently the red light ticket will go to the corporation that holds the title of the vehicle if you lease a vehicle. If 30 days passes you will not be able to see the reported violation online. Just got notice of ticket from April 27, 2017; still not addressed to me and still not my actual address. The person that answered the phone does not seem to understand the meaning of notice.

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- There are nine intersections in Austin, armed with a red light camera. You might not notice them, but roll through a red light or roll past that white stop bar painted on the ground and you’re likely to end up with a $75 ticket in the mail.

Austin is one of 60 cities across Texas to have installed red light cameras. Several of those cities have gotten rid of their cameras; mostly because when voters have a say, they vote the cameras out of town.

But, a KXAN Investigation of how these cities installed the cameras shows most all are not in compliance with state law—the law that gave cities the right to charge a civil fine for running a red light.

Before Sept. 1, 2007, there were no rules on how much Texas cities could charge for running a red light. There were no rules on how cities could contract with camera companies with respect to keeping cameras from being used to fill quotas and be turned into money makers for cities.

With the passage of Senate Bill 1119 in 2007, that all changed. The new law gave cities the right to charge drivers civil fines for red light running instead of the criminal penalty. The law became part of Texas Transportation Code, Section 707.003.

The law had one major requirement before a city could install a red light camera: perform a traffic engineering study. Those studies required cities to look for other adjustments that could be made to an intersection to reduce crashes before installing a red light camera—or to help reduce the chances of people running a red light.

In order to find out which cities complied with the law, KXAN filed public records requests with every city that we could find records of ever using a red light camera. KXAN received records from 50 cities. Our analysis of those records shows only three cities appear to have conducted a traffic engineering study that was signed and sealed by a licensed Texas engineer: Abilene, College Station and Southlake.

“We found—more than once, on multiple, multiple occasions…there’s a lot of cities that just didn’t comply with this traffic engineering study requirement—at all,” Russell Bowman told KXAN. Bowman is an attorney in Irving and got a red light ticket in Richardson, Texas in November of 2012. Bowman said he wasn’t driving the car at the time, but someone in his family was. Bowman still got the ticket and would have to prove it wasn’t him running the red light.

Bowman chose to fight the $75 ticket. It was nothing more than a fight on principal, Bowman said.

“They ticketed the wrong guy this time,” Bowman told KXAN investigator Jody Barr.

Bowman filed records requests with Richardson’s city hall. The lack of response, he said, caused him to sue the city.

Knowing the state required cities to perform a traffic engineering study for each red light camera as of Sept. 1, 2007, Bowman wanted to see if Richardson ever performed the study. Richardson officials, Bowman said, never answered his request to see their study.

"I know why they didn’t respond to my letter because they never did those things,” Bowman said. “When I’m looking at the statute, it provides that if the traffic engineering study is not done, they can’t impose a red light camera penalty—they just can’t—the statute prohibits it."


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