California Red-Light Cameras

California Red-Light Cameras: Legal or Not?

The first red light camera bill was passed in New York in 1993. In 1994, the same state installed the first red light camera. Overall, the installation proved successful in preventing crashes related to red lights and catching red light violations. Since then, other states have implemented the technology in their local traffic laws. Contrary to popular belief, there are some definite benefits in the utilization of red-light cameras. According to a July 2016 study conducted by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, “…rates of fatal red light running crashes and of all fatal crashes at signalized intersections in cities with cameras programs were 21 and 14 percent lower, respectively, after cameras were turned on than what would have been expected without cameras.” In addition, red light cameras provide revenue for the city and state, there is also data to suggest that, in general, most people are in support of red camera light usage.

While red light cameras have been proven useful, there is evidence to suggest that there may be an increased likelihood of rear-end collisions as a byproduct of their use. Then there is a whole issue of privacy infringement… Here are a few key things to note about California red light cameras: 

  • Red-light cameras are triggered by sensors: 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.
  • The amount of fines a driver has to pay for California traffic violations include a base fine plus a number of fees and surcharges, which can substantially increase the total fine amount.
  • To be properly fined/cited by a red light camera in the state of California, the camera must capture a photo in which the driver’s face and license plate are clear and legible. 

The good news is if you have been cited for a traffic infraction by a red-light camera, there is a way to dismiss the ticket. If you haven’t taken traffic school in the last year for a ticket, you may be eligible to take an online defensive driving course to dismiss your ticket. We recommend using for all of your online defensive driving needs. The driver improvement course is valid for all courts in California, and the course is entirely free to try! Remember, drive safely out there!

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