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undefinedFor those who find a camera-enforced red-light ticket in their mailbox, deciding whether to contest the ticket in court can be intimidating.

In recent years, Bakersfield, CA, has seen an increase in the implementation of red-light cameras at various intersections. These technological advancements aim to enhance road safety by capturing violations but also present a set of challenges for drivers. However, many opponents argue that these cameras are more for revenue than safety.  Let's explore the pros and cons to give you a comprehensive legal perspective.

There Are Eight Camera-Enforced Red-Light Intersections in Bakersfield, CA

Safety concerns largely influenced Bakersfield’s decision to implement these camera systems at eight major intersections. Of course, there are those who believe this decision was also influenced by economic reasons. Traffic tickets are a billion-dollar industry in CA. 

The premise is straightforward: the cameras capture vehicles that enter the intersection after the light has turned red. Subsequently, this leads to the issuance of tickets to the registered vehicle owners. 

At first glance, this may seem like a foolproof system, but we've observed numerous technical and procedural flaws that can result in unwarranted tickets. For example, a camera system malfunction can mistakenly tag a law-abiding driver. Likewise, friends and family members might use the registered owner’s vehicle and get caught by the camera. Knowing the nuances of each intersection and understanding the technicalities of how the camera systems work are crucial for anyone considering contesting a ticket.

It is incumbent on the city of Bakersfield to prove the registered owner was driving, and the owner is not obligated to divulge who was driving if it wasn’t obvious in the image or video.

Also, an experienced traffic officer must view the video and photo before sending it to the owner’s last known address on file with the DMV.

“Plus, according to state law, warning signs must be posted before the intersection, but not necessarily on the traffic light pole.”

Attending TVS Could Still Cost Nearly $600 for a Camera-Enforced Red-Light Ticket

One common misconception is that attending Traffic Violator’s School (TVS) provides a cost-effective solution to a camera-enforced red-light ticket. 

However, the costs quickly add up. After pleading guilty, a driver is faced with a $490 fine. But that's not where the expenses end. The county imposes an additional $64 administrative fee for those opting to attend TVS. 

Moreover, TVS tuition and the DMV filing fee can further increase your out-of-pocket expenses, and if they are unable to complete TVS before the court-ordered date, they will forfeit those expenses and face a substantial increase in auto insurance premiums. For the average California driver, that increase will amount to nearly $700 annually for three years. So, this minor infraction could cost almost $2,800 over the three years it will stay on their record. 

Furthermore, TVS attendance has its limitations. For one, drivers can only use TVS once in an 18-month period to keep a conviction confidential. Commercial drivers, especially, need to be wary. If the violation occurred in their commercial motor vehicle (CMV) traffic school is not an option. If the violation occurred in their private vehicle, attending TVS won't keep the conviction hidden from their employer or the DOT FMCSA. In fact, the CMV driver must inform their employer of any paid fine or conviction for a moving violation. 

Moreover, TVS is reserved for minor infractions that don't require a mandatory court appearance, making speeding 100+ mph, misdemeanors, felonies, and alcohol and drug-related incidents ineligible.

Given these nuances, we always stress the importance of consulting a traffic attorney when faced with a camera-enforced red-light ticket. With our experience and knowledge, we can guide you through the maze of regulations and often pinpoint technicalities that can make a difference in your case.

Weighing Your Options: The Verdict on Contesting

Contesting a camera-enforced red-light ticket can be a wise choice, especially if there's a legitimate reason to believe the ticket was issued in error. With the guidance of a seasoned traffic attorney, drivers stand a solid chance of having their tickets dismissed. 

Having a traffic attorney represent you means you won’t need to attend traffic court, and the traffic court judge cannot ask you the direct question, “Who was driving your car and went through a red light?"  

In conclusion, while camera-enforced red-light systems in Bakersfield aim to make the roads safer, they are not without flaws. Always let a traffic attorney evaluate the specific circumstances of your case. We're here to help you navigate the complexities of the traffic ticket world. 

Consult with Bigger & Harman, APC 

When your mailbox contains a camera-enforced red-light ticket in Bakersfield, CA, call Bigger & Harman, APC, at (661) 349-9300. Send us an email, or use our handy contact form.

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.


The CA Driver Handbook English y Español.

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