We have all seen red light cameras posted at the busiest intersections
of just about every city and town in Virginia. So common are these cameras
that if you have never been photographed by one yourself, you most likely
know someone who has been.
From the very beginning, the purpose and prominence of these red light
cameras was controversial. Some people felt they were an invasion of privacy,
and more still thought it was unjust to allow an automated system to more
or less dole out criminal punishment. How do these cameras work, and why
might it be a problem?
Whenever someone allegedly rolls through a red light illegally, a posted
camera will snap a shot of the license plate, the car’s body, and
the driver within, create a file, and send it off to the police station.
An officer there is meant to review the files and approve the ones that
seem valid. Only, with uncounted pictures snapped each day, the concern
is that an unreasonable amount of pictures are being approved, each one
generating an automatically mailed citation to the home of the driver.
Other legitimacy issues arise when considering that a camera does not have
the ability to use judgemental discretion and is prone to mechanical and
programming errors. That is to say, it could easily take a picture when
someone is driving legally through a yellow or green light. In most cases,
the pictures are framed in such a way that it becomes impossible to tell
if the traffic light was actually red for that driver. With this in mind,
there is a chance that anyone could receive a citation in the mail despite
never actually running a red light.
No Police Officer, No Crime?
Within Virginia’s legal statutes regarding red light camera tickets,
there is an interesting provision, which states that the law “ultimately
requires a personal notification.” What does this mean and why is
it important? In effect, the law states that a mailed citation generated
by a red light traffic ticket might not be legally binding due to the
lack of personal notification from a police officer or service processor.
However, you should never make the assumption that a mailed citation can
be ignored. Instead, talk with a criminal defense attorney about the citation
and go from there. If you have questions about red light traffic citation
or another ticket for a serious traffic-related infraction,
contact our Virginia Beach criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Daniel
J Miller to explore your options.