Not receiving traffic citation because abroad

Since IMHO is where to go for legal advice:

There’s a good chance that I may get cited for running a red light near my home today (the red-light camera sees it). Unfortunately I am also likely traveling abroad very soon, and such a citation might sit in my mail unbeknownst. Am I considered “served” with the ticket/citation if it’s mailed to my address and would I be considered to be delinquent/tardy on the fine if I was abroad and didn’t pay it?

Ignorance of the law is no defense. But, really how much trouble could you be in for running a red light? It’s not exactly a felony. When you get home see if you have a citation and pay it immediately.

If you do get a ticket and you are gone long enough you could be charged with failure to appear. In theory, you could then be arrested if you get pulled over and you haven’t dealt with it. Travel abroad could be a defense. Have your mail rerouted to a friend or family member just to be safe imo.

How long will you be gone?

Perhaps you should have someone check your mail (as well as keep an eye on the house).

I’ll be gone about 2 months.

Can you just check and pay online?

The big issue, IMO, is how this state/locality handles camera tickets. In some places, they’re fully-fledged citations with failure to appear warrants and the rest, but in others (like Ohio) they’re off-the-books civil matters.

Call the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) or their equivalent, or check their website, and find out how these matters are handled. You don’t need to admit guilt, but you can ask questions, such as: how long until citations are mailed, how long does someone have to respond, what happens if someone is unable to respond, can the matter be handled online, and what are the consequences for failure to respond? Once you know the answers, then you can decide whether you want to contact them before you leave and ask them to research your plates. If you owe them, then you can pay. If you don’t owe, document the conversation just in case, and then don’t worry about it until you get back.

Ok thanks. It’s Austin Texas.

Here is what the city says happens if you don’t handle it on time:

Here’s Austin, Texas’s online search and pay.

(Sorry, I guess that doesn’t answer the actual question in the OP about what happens if you don’t, but that one’s been covered, so if you’re feeling an overwhelming sense of suspense while you’re abroad, there’s that option.)


I think the USPS has a somewhat new service where you can receive an email with a list or scan (I’m not entirely sure) of each day’s mail. I’m not sure if this service is available everywhere or if it’s something that would work if you are having your mail held while you’re gone. But maybe something to look into as it would allow you to monitor your flow of mail and know whether the red light camera got your or not.

With the online system, you may even be able to check before you get your citation. I know I have in the past, but it was only a day or two before o received the citation in the mail.

If you do go delinquent on the ticket, I’d assume that taking your passport with the exit and entry stamps down to the courthouse ought to be enough to get any additional delinquency fees removed.

Red-light camera notices/citations are sometimes handled differently than PO issued citations (A red-light camera ticket? That’s not even a real moving violation). What’s the actual down-side to ignoring a red-light notice/citation/post-it in Austin,TX?

You might want to talk to a lawyer -

Just stopping by (see what I did there? Stopping by…) to say that I am not surprised that one named Velocity would end up with a traffic ticket.