Red-light tickets are one of the most frequently issued tickets in California. Likewise, it carries the most substantial fine of any red-light ticket in the nation. If you just pay the fine and accept traffic school, if eligible, you could spend close to $600. When you do not qualify for traffic school, and you simply pay the fine, your auto insurance will rise an average of $500 per year for the three-year period the conviction will remain on your driving record. That is why it is crucial to your budget and your driving record to consult a traffic ticket attorney.
How to Prevent a Red-Light Ticket
Many drivers, when they see a yellow light, speed up hoping to make it through before the light turns red. In CA, the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) establishes a statewide, uniform standard for minimum times for yellow lights:
- With a 25 mph speed limit or less, the yellow light interval is a minimum 3.0 seconds,
- A 30 mph speed limit, the yellow light interval is a minimum 3.5 seconds,
- A 40 mph speed limit, the yellow light interval is a minimum 4.5 seconds, and
- A 50 mph speed limit, the yellow light interval is a minimum 5.5 seconds
The local traffic authorities may increase the time interval based on surveys and field studies; however, they do not have the option to decrease the minimum interval times imposed by the MUTCD.
Since you usually have no way of knowing how long the light has been yellow, the prudent option would be to slow down and stop because if the light turns red while you are in the intersection, you will receive a photo-enforced or face-to-face red-light ticket.
How to Fight a Red-Light Ticket
When you receive a red-light photo-enforced ticket, you should go back to that intersection listed on the citation to time the light. Many cases have been uncovered of municipalities shortening the yellow light interval.
One well-documented case of this is Fremont, a city southeast of San Francisco. They were adding roughly $200,000 per month to city coffers by using shortened yellow lights that resulted in more red-light tickets. The 2017 incident was the second such incident in Fremont. As reported in the article, the city did the same in 2010.
Therefore, after getting a red-light ticket, you should use a stopwatch to time the light from when it turns yellow from green until it turns red. After doing this several times, if the interval is lower than the MUTCD standard, you should consult with a traffic ticket attorney about fighting the ticket.
Another possible method of fighting a photo-enforced red-light ticket is if the video and photo were not reviewed by an experienced law enforcement officer (LEO) before it was mailed. The standard in CA is the LEO must have a minimum of two years in the traffic division to review these tickets. You might not be able to find out that information, but a traffic ticket attorney can find out.
Consult with a Bakersfield, CA, Traffic Attorney
A lot of people think it's better to represent themselves, but it is more convenient to hire a traffic ticket attorney to guide you through the process. If convicted of a red-light ticket, it will cost nearly $500 for the fine. Plus, unless you are eligible for and attend traffic school, which will cost another $75-100, the DMV will assess a Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) point for a moving violation conviction, which will raise your car insurance.
One conviction or paid fine could cost around $2000. The average Californian pays $1960 per year for auto insurance. Losing your “good driver’s discount” will result in a 20 percent increase before putting you into an increased risk category, which could increase your insurance another 20-30 percent. Or, approximately $500 per year for the three years the moving violation conviction will stay on your motor vehicle driving record (MVR).
If you choose to plead not guilty and handle the red-light ticket on your own, you will likely need to take two days off from work; one for the arraignment and one for your day in traffic court. A traffic ticket attorney can represent you, and you will not need to take time off from work.
Getting an expensive ticket can be frustrating but it doesn't have to be difficult. Hiring a traffic ticket attorney could lead to a dismissal, a reduced fine, or reduced penalties such as a no-point conviction where you pay a fine but do not receive NOTS points.
Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español 661.349.9755.
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California Vehicle Code (CVC) 21453, Offenses Relating to Traffic Devices
The 2018 CA Driver Handbook .pdf
2014 California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (CA MUTCD), Revision 3, dated 9 March 2018
The 2018 California Superior Court Bail Schedule for Infractions and Misdemeanors .pdf