Red light cameras are a subsection of traffic safety cameras, a group that includes railroad crossings, school speed zones, public park speed zones, and hospital speeds zones. The purpose of a red-light camera is simple—to automatically photograph vehicles that drive through red lights with the goal of lowering rates of collisions at intersections that are deemed too high. Before the camera there must also be a warning that indicates to the driver either that they are within one of the above specific zones or that the driver is in an area that uses automated traffic safety cameras to enforce speed violations. Importantly, a traffic camera may not reveal the face of either the driver or any of the passengers in the vehicle.
How do they work?
Now, you may be asking, how does a red-light camera actually detect a violation? Although a more in-depth video can be found here, the general idea is that there are two sensors in the road. When your car goes over them, your speed is calculated and if it is within a certain threshold determined by the government that would imply you cannot stop in time for the light, a picture is taken before you enter the intersection, of just your license plate, and after you leave the intersection. Of course, before a picture is taken, the computer must receive a signal that the light is red, so as long as you have passed the stop line before the light turns red, you do not have to worry about a camera ticket.
In Washington State, the photographs and information are then sent to a law enforcement officer for manual review. If the officer determines that it was a mistake or too close to call, they throw out the photographs. Otherwise, they produce a certificate that states the facts supporting the notice of infraction as well as the pictures
How will I be notified of infractions?
Notification of the camera ticket is then mailed out to the registered owner of the vehicle and must be mailed within 14 days of the violation. If the vehicle is rented, the violation must be mailed within 14 days of establishing the renter’s name and address.
What do I do when I receive a red-light camera ticket?
Once you receive notification of the infraction, you are responsible for that infraction. If it is proven that the vehicle was in violation of a traffic provision and that the person named in the violation was at the time the registered owner of the vehicle, then it is presumed that you were in control of the vehicle at the point when the violation occurred, and thus liable for any penalties. However, it ought to be noted that if you were not the driver at the time, then one can submit either testimony or a written statement under oath that the car was in control by another person, this presumption is overcome.
Do camera tickets affect my driving record or insurance?
One of the most important things to note about automated traffic safety tickets in Washington State is that they will not be a part of your driving record. Meaning there will be no increase to insurance or points against your license as a result of the ticket. The only negative effect is the fine you have to pay if found guilty. This fine is to be treated as a parking ticket and as such cannot exceed the amount of a fine issued for other parking infractions within the same jurisdiction.
Can I still contest the ticket?
If you would still like to contest the camera ticket, you can contest it through a hearing. This typically must be requested within 33 days of receiving the ticket and the ticket will contain instructions on how to do so. A couple of reasons why you could contest your ticket may include that you were not the one driving at the time or the traffic signal or camera equipment was malfunctioning, or other technicalities with the ticket that could either get it reduced or dismissed. For other options, it is important to discuss them with an attorney as they likely know the court and have dealt with similar tickets in the area. They are also more likely to spot a reason for dismissal or provide convincing argument for reduction or dismissal to the prosecutor or judge.
Keep in mind that it is often not worth the cost to hire an attorney for a Washington red-light camera ticket since they act as parking tickets and do not go on your Department of Licensing driving record (which is what your insurance company reviews). However, if you have prepaid legal insurance through a company like MetLife or ARAG, that pays your attorney fee, it could be worth it. This is where an attorney like Dan Samas could be useful. Dan offers free consultations to answer any questions you may have concerning your camera ticket or regular traffic ticket. You can contact him through email or by the phone number listed in the contact information.
 RCW 46.63.170.e
 RCW 46.63.170.f
 RCW 46.63.170.g
 RCW 46.63.170.g
 RCW 46.63.075.1
 RCW 46.63.075.2
 RCW 46.63.170.l.2
 RCW 46.63.170.l.2