Here in Ventura County, California, the red-light camera has been deployed at most of the busiest intersections in two of the county’s larger cities: Oxnard and Ventura. The tickets issued through the operation of these devices cost drivers more than $480 each and many people believe two falsehoods about the tickets: 1) that they cannot be issued in error, or challenged effectively in court and 2) that they make the intersections safer. At the Bromund Law Group, we have a 80% success rate for our clients in contesting these tickets at trial and a 100% certainty that the cameras make intersections more dangerous. How you ask?
Here are my Top Ten Winning Arguments for Red Light Camera Tickets:
1. Blurry photo of the driver.
2. The driver isn’t recognizable as the defendant.
3. Driver is not the charged defendant.
4. Affidavit of someone not in court identifying our client as the driver. Not admissible at trial as an affidavit is not competent evidence.
5. Yellow Light is too brief. Vehicle Code Section 21455.7 says that yellow lights cannot be shorter than those provided in the CalTrans Traffic Manual. (Under present California rules, the minimum yellow light change interval for a left turn or right turn phase is 3.0 seconds.)
6. The warning signs are not present or proper in dimension and visibility. Vehicle Code Section 21455.5 requires the posting of warning signs. The signs must comply with CalTrans specifications: They must be at least 30″ wide and 42″ inches high, the bottom edge must be at least 7 feet above the pavement level (5 feet in rural areas), and they must be laid-out per the CalTrans design.
7. The specific camera used to generate your citation was not installed as required by Vehicle Code Section 21455.5. In 2005, twice in 2008, and twice again in 2010 appellate courts clarified the law, ruling that a city errs if it fails to provide warning tickets for the first thirty days of operation when it adds a new camera to its system.
8. The light wasn’t actually red at the time you entered the intersection. Light speed isn’t the only speed that matters when looking at a photograph of a red-light. California Vehicle Code Section 21453, says: “A driver facing a steady red… shall stop….” LEDs (light-emitting diodes), the fastest-acting light source used in signals, can take slightly more than 0.1 second to light-up (turn-on) after the power has been applied. The key to this defense is close observation of the sequence of pictures showing the relative brightness of the light as the images progress.
9. The ticket wasn’t issued properly. The police often mail the ticket to the wrong address or send it outside the authorized time period for issuance. Vehicle Code Section 40518 requires the notice to be sent within 15 days of the alleged violation.
10. The city may not have a cost-neutral contract with the vendor who runs the camera. Vehicle Code Section 21455.5 prohibits “pay per ticket” contracts. 21455.5(h) says: (h)(1) A contract [with a red light camera supplier]… may not include… payment… based on the number of citations generated, or as a percentage of the revenue generated…” Oxnard and Ventura have had, in the past, contracts that do not comply with this law. Oxnard averages about 600 such tickets per month. Oxnard signed a new contract in September 2013. Ventura averages about 780 such tickets per month. Ventura’s contract is not cost-neutral in regards to ‘rolling right turn’ tickets and thus can be challenged outright in court.
As for whether or not the cameras make us safer, I cite you to the following:
- Palm Beach did a study, showing that rear-end collisions spiked after the installation of the cameras. You can read about it here.
- If you don’t like studies, how about logic? Here is a good succint argument about how the cameras change behavior in ways that are not consistent with driver safety.
The Bromund Law Group’s most recent victory on a red-light camera ticket came on December 6, 2013. If you would like to help us notch another win, call us today at 805.650.1100. As a defense attorney, I love to fight these tickets and restore justice to the justice system.