There is considerable debate going on throughout the United States at present regarding the use of cameras to catch motorists who run red lights or speed. These cameras are motion sensitive and take pictures of a car’s license plate whenever they exceed a certain speed or pass through an intersection when the stop light is red. Such devices are not used all over the nation, but only in a few specific jurisdictions.
Here is how the system works. After an infraction is caught on camera, a driver will receive a traffic ticket in the mail for the claimed driving infraction. Penalties and fine amounts vary from state-to-state.
Texas is a hot spot for the debate I mentioned. The residents of Houston, Texas voted in the November 2010 election to ban stop light cameras. The cameras were turned off in August 2011, but then turned back on despite the will of the people. As this article goes to publication, the red light cameras have been turned off, again, however the City of Houston is still seeking to collect.
Several years ago, a law suit was filed requesting documents associated with Houston’s red light cameras. An open records request was made regarding documentation associated with the red light cameras. The city refused to turn over the requested documents, and district judge Tracy Christopher wrote a biting opinion ordering the City of Houston to turn over the wrongfully withheld documents. However, the City of Houston has repeatedly refused to produce those documents.
So, just last week, a district judge found the City of Houston has wrongfully withheld documents made under a valid open records request and awarded two attorneys, who are fighting the city’s red light camera laws, attorney’s fees in the amount of $95,000. The two attorneys are Randall Kallinen and Paul Kubosh. These two attorneys point out that Sec. 707.019 of the Texas Transportation Code clearly states the following about failures to pay a civil penalty of this type: (a) If the owner of the motor vehicle fails to timely pay the amount of the civil penalty imposed against the owner:
(1) an arrest warrant may not be issued for the owner; and
(2) the imposition of the civil penalty may not be recorded on the owner’s driving record.
Furthermore, failure to pay will also not go on your credit. The law states:
(h) A local authority or the person with which the local authority contracts for the administration and enforcement of a photographic traffic signal enforcement system may not provide information about a civil penalty imposed under this chapter to a credit bureau, as defined by Section 392.001, Finance Code.
There are no red light cameras within the City of San Antonio, but there are over ten such traffic cameras in Balcones Heights. Of the 68,832 traffic camera citations sent out by Balcones Heights Police Department since 2007, only 43,572 have been paid to the Balcones Heights Municipal Court. While a portion of the fines collected from those citations goes to the state, almost $1 million dollars has been collected and kept by the city, itself.
Citations issued by Balcones Heights from these red light cameras fall under the law stated above and are only civil penalties. Therefore, my advice is not to pay any red light camera citation issued by Balcones Heights, but instead to visit the web site TrashYourTicket.com and save your money.
FOR HELP with Balcones Heights traffic tickets, call the traffic ticket defense lawyers at TrafficTicketSA.com 210-745-2825.