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Disputing A Red Light Camera Ticket

Cameras at stop lights have been used in the United States since the early 1990s. Since the inception, there has been much debate as to the primary reason for the camera’s use. Is it really for public safety, as stated by the authorities that use red-light cameras, or is the main priority financial gain and to fill county and state revenue coffers?

Many will point to the recent refund issued to nearly 390,000 drivers in Chicago after last year’s class-action lawsuit settlement regarding red-light camera tickets and camera enforced speeding tickets as proof of the financial gain priority. Bolstering this opinion are the many improprieties noted in the Chicago lawsuit.

Drivers that filed a claim will receive a 50 percent refund of the fine paid, according to Brendan Bakala of the Illinois Policy. Improprieties noted in the civil suit were that the city did not issue a second notice before determining liability, there were reports of failed identification of drivers, and the city charged some a $100 late fee. In many instances, the $100 late fee was charged four days before the required late payment date. There were also reports of yellow-light time tampering. For safety reasons, a yellow light must stay yellow for a certain period before turning red. Additionally, a city official was charged with taking bribes from the red-light camera manufacturer.


Red-light time in CA is regulated statewide by Caltrans and dictated by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Yellow-light time is dependent on the speed limit of that roadway, as follows:

Posted or Prima Facie Speed Limit in MPH

Minimum YellowLight Interval in Seconds

25 or less


















Red-Light Camera Tickets in Fremont SNAFU

Fremont, CA, had a similar problem as Chicago. They lowered the yellowlight time intervals at two intersections in 2016 from 4.7 seconds to 4.0 seconds. City officials had to repay several residents a total of $65,000, according to the East Bay Times. In an online article written by Joseph Geha on 11 August 2017, “Fremont: City adjusts yellow light times after ticketing snafu.” The time interval change was reportedly due to confusion after Caltrans’ revision of the MUTCD. Traffic lights citywide now conform to the MUTCD minimum standard.

California Vehicle Code (CVC) 21453

A red-light camera ticket is governed by California Vehicle Code (CVC) 21453, Offenses Related to Traffic Devices, and sets the traffic law for drivers stopping at red lights. This code tells drivers what to do with a red circular or arrow light until the light changes to green. Getting a ticket, whether by human officer or camera, could be the result of ignoring these rules.

Options for a red-light camera ticket are the same as a ticket received from a human law enforcement officer. The ticket can be simply paid or fought in court. If the ticket is paid (admitting guilt) or deemed warranted in a California court, there is a monetary penalty of approximately $490. The DMV will also assess one point and add it to your driving record if you are not eligible to attend traffic school.

Disputing a camera enforced red-light ticket can be easier than challenging a ticket issued by a law enforcement officer (LEO) because there are more technicalities involved. A red-light camera ticket must get reviewed by an LEO before issuance to ensure the vehicle was not already in the intersection when the light turned. Also, the yellow-light time interval is a part of that review. If this did not happen, the case could be dismissed.

Consult with a Traffic Attorney in Tulare County

Many believe it is less expensive to pay the fine and accept traffic school; however, the fine and traffic school combined are nearly $600. And, if you are not eligible for traffic school due to a previous ticket within the last 18 months, your auto insurance will increase an average of $500 annually.

Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, and discuss your options before you decide to pay the fine for a red-light camera ticket.

Bigger & Harman routinely represent clients in Tulare County and other Central Valley traffic courts. Send an email to, or a private message on their Facebook page.

Se habla Español 661.349.9755.


CA Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Revision 2, dated 7 April 2017 from the CA DOT website

The Illinois Policy article dated 30 January 2018, “390,000 Drivers Set to Receive Refunds for Red-Light Tickets” by Brendan Bakala

The East Bay Times online article dated 11 August 2017, “Fremont: City adjusts yellow light times after ticketing snafu” by Joseph Geha

CVC 21453, Offenses Related to Traffic Devices

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