Red Light Camera Tickets in Virginia: Penalties & Defenses

car with dog inside

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?

Red Light Camera Ticket Rules

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 lawyers at The Law Offices of Daniel J Miller to explore your options.

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