Red light cameras

I have a question about a purely hypothetical situation. If someone was to run a red light at an intersection where there was a camera installed, and a cop happened to be there when you did, would the cop be able to write you a ticket? If they did, would the city still send you a ticket from the camera? If so, would you be able to contest it just on the grounds that you already got a ticket for it?

Well, I don’t think you can be prosecuted twice for the same thing, but the cop would have no way of reliably knowing that the camera was working, so you might get a ticket, then have to go to court to argue any subsequent charge arising from the camera.

IANAL though, so take that all with a shovelful of salt

I don’t think you could be tried twice under Double Jeopardy laws. There would have already been a final judgement made.

Can you not be tried? I thought you just can’t be convicted. I’d imagine, you would have to plead not guilty to one of the tickets at traffic court and then take it to regular court to explain what happened.

I was thinking about double jeopardy when I thought up this scenario. My understanding of the situation (and I may be wrong) is that in most cases, the fine from the camera is greater, but doesn’t count as a moving violation. Would you be able to choose if you’d rather pay a larger fine in exchange for no points on your license?

For the record, I live in St. Louis County, but I am interested in how this would work in other jurisdictions. I’m kind of new here, so I’m not sure of the rules on this board, but I don’t mind speculation. However, I would also like input from someone who is a lawyer (or a law enforcing officer), even if they aren’t mine.

So the question is: If I already decided that I am in enough of a hurry that I am willing to pay for the ticket from the camera so I can get there on time, can the police officer still make me waste time giving me a paper ticket?

Remote law enforcement awakens some illogical fear in me. Probably because I read too much sci-fi as a kid.
Sorry for the hi-jack.
Nothing to see here.

Move along.

A police officer can issue a citation for any illegal conduct he has personally witnessed. So, yes, you’ll have to sit there while he writes the ticket if the cop wants to write one to you.

In the OP’s situation: odds are, if the camera was working properly, you’ll still get a ticket in the mail, for the simple reason that the police have almost nothing to do with any red light camera systems I’ve ever heard of. So, the camera won’t know that you got a ticket from a cop, and the cop won’t know you got a ticket from the camera.

But, you’d have an almost irrefutable case if you paid your police-issued ticket and later went to court to argue the red light ticket on double jeopardy grounds. One of the core tenets of double jeopardy is that a person should not be punished twice for the same conduct. If you show the judge your copy of the police-issued ticket, which should have the time and date on it, and your receipt from when you paid it, and then show your camera ticket with the time and date stamp, the judge should let you go if he’s not an idiot.

Of course, in many areas red light tickets are considered somehow “irrefutable” and they don’t even have a system in place to contest them, so you would never even see a judge. However, there’s always someone up the chain who can fix such things. Just keep pestering.

In our local case, the red-light-camera statute is actually written such that a citation issued by an officer overrides any generated by the camera.

I know this because an anti-red-light-camera-statute activist decided to run a red light in order to allow him to challenge the law. He planned the event out carefully, with lookouts in each direction to try to allay claims that he was endangering the public safety. But in the process, the police got wind of his scheme and foiled the whole plot by having officers on the scene, who gave him a real ticket.

What if the cop gives you a written warning? Verbal warning?

I would like to hijack (or piggy-back) a little.

Some of the red light camera systems are installed and operated by private contractors under a financial agreement with the local government in which the contractor gets a percentage of the fines. In fact, here in Texas, the State and the cities just had a pissing contest over who was entitled to the money.

My question is: How is it legal for a private company to issue the citations? Or, are they just taking pictures and sending them to the local law enforcement and the law enforcement organization issuing the citations using the photos as evidence?

It seems a little shaky to me for a private company to have a vested financial interest in enforcing laws because they don’t have to answer to voters or judiciary in any way.

Those are all valid concerns, Tully Mars, and have been raised here in Ohio many times. So far, though, red-light cameras are still up and running. Cities find them very lucrative, and they do seem to discourage speeding and running red lights, at least a bit. There was a bill introduced in the General Assembly not long ago to require that any ticket issued because of a red-light camera photo also be personally testified to by a police officer who’d seen the violation (which would defeat the purpose of having such cameras, obviously), but it never became law.

I got a red-light camera ticket earlier this year. The car shown was clearly not my own, for a place and time when I was certain I hadn’t been driving. I filed a written objection, and had a brief hearing before an administrative hearing officer of the city clerk of court’s office. He dismissed the case ASAP.

To answer the OP, yes, that would be double jeopardy. You’d just have to show proof of having already paid a ticket for the conduct which resulted in your first ticket, and the court would - or should - dismiss the second case against you.

In California (IIRC and IANAL), red light cameras are considered illegal speed traps and tickets from them can be easily fought. Unfortunately, the DMV will (or at least used to) suspend your license if you don’t pay the fine. I believe they consider it some sort of “administrative fine” rather than a “criminal fine” (like not paying your registration) thus the court case has no impact on whether you are suppose to pay it or not.

Do you have a cite for that? I have heard of them being fought if the yellow light time is not adequate, but not as illegal speed traps.

Red light cameras are up and running here in San Diego county. (Have been for a couple years, now.)

I never heard that the ticket was considered an “administrative” fine.

From the FAQ in your cite

It has been a lot of years, but when I looked up speed trap in the California vehicle code it defined it as using time to determine speed. Such as painting two lines on the road, and if a car traveled between them in less than X seconds it was speeding.

I wasn’t arguing that the cameras were speed traps.

I was countering SaintCad’s assertion that red light cameras were illegal in California.

Sorry I wasn’t clear.

No, I wasn’t arguing with you, I was agreeing with you.
Someday I will have to get this English stuff down pat. :wink:

Sorry if I did not make myself clear.

In most states where red-light (and/or speeding) cameras are in use, the legislature has passed a law making a separate civil violation applicable for the camera situation. This is done to avoid constitutional issues created by criminal cases and camera evidence. Your rights under civil fines laws are considerably less (lesser standard of evidence, etc.). It becomes like a parking ticket or a meter violation.

Not sure if that has been done in California, yet.

They generally are outsourced. The police collect a percentage. It would be a financial boon for both to collect the fines.
In Detroit a few years ago parking tickets were done by a outside the police force agency. They issued tickets to people far away from the Detroit area. Most sent in the money with a note saying they had not been in Detroit but did not want to drive all the way to Detroit and waste a day in court to fight it. Eventually it came out they fished for outer area plates and sent tickets to improve profits. They claim not to do it anymore.
Point is they want the money and they are set up to make it inconvenient to fight them.